news Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 05:30
The number of witnesses alleging that the Seshachalam encounter was fake has been growing, with yet another man coming forward and recording his statement with the National Human Rights Commission. The Andhra Pradesh (AP) police had on April 7, claimed that they stumbled upon 100-150 people trying to cut and smuggle red sanders in a prohibited area. It added that the alleged smugglers had started throwing stones at the police, to which they fired in self-defence and killed 20 of them. Three workers, R Sekar from Tiruvannamalai district, Balamurugan from Dharmapuri district and Ilangovan from Malakanavayoor village in Tiruvannamalai district have appeared before the NHRC, claiming that the encounter was staged and recorded their statements. Here’s what each of them said. 1)  Sekar, a daily wage worker from Pudur Kollamedu village in Tiruvannamalai told NHRC that he was travelling by bus to Chennai with his neighbour Mahendran, who had told him about a construction job opportunity . An unknown woman was sitting to Sekar’s left and Mahendran to his right.  He then claimed that a man entered the bus and forced Mahendran out, after asking for his identity. According to reports, Sekar may have escaped as the lady sitting to his other side, might have been mistaken to be his wife. 2)  Balachandran was also travelling in the bus but he got down with a few others to go to a liquor shop. When he came back, all the labourers who stayed back on the bus were missing, including his father, who was killed in the encounter. Balachandran was travelling with his relatives and father after he was approached by an agent named Palani, who had also disappeared from the bus. When Balachandran called Palani, he told him to go back and added that the police were arresting everyone. 3)  At around 8 pm on April 6, Ilangovan and his friend Panneerselvam reached Nagari Puthur in Andhra Pradesh. They were travelling to a city in search of masonry work. They were in an autorickshaw, when eight alleged policemen in plain clothes who were armed with pistols, pulled them out and put them in an open truck carrying around 30 others.  Illangovan said that he managed to jump off and escape, when the truck stopped at the forest ranger's office at Kezthirupathy at around 4am on April 7.He hitchhiked back to his village and found out that Paneerselvam’s body came the same night. All the labourers killed, were from Tamil Nadu, which has resulted in widespread protests by various Tamil groups, who have been protesting against the AP government and chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu.   
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