CHENNAI/TIRUPATI/HYDERABAD: It is more or less certain that it will be curtains for the investigation into the Seshachalam 'encounter' in which 20 loggers of Tamil Nadu were gunned down by Andhra Pradesh policemen on April 7 last year.
Though a case filed by the AP Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) challenging the police version of the episode is still being heard in the Hyderabad High Court, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to probe the case is learnt to have disclosed to the wife of one of the loggers who was shot dead by the Andhra Pradesh Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force that they were planning to close the case for lack of "evidence".
In a notice served four days ago on Muniammal, wife of one of the 20 slain loggers, A Sasi Kumar, the SIT asked her to present herself before the IV Additional Judicial Magistrate First Class in Tirupati to register her objection to the closure of the case for lack of evidence.
The notice was signed by N Chandra Sekhar, the investigating officer. Dated May 17, 2016, it told Muniammal, "If you want to oppose this report, you will have to do so before the above Magistrate within a week from the date of receipt of the notice." Upon coming to know of the SIT notice, advocate P P Mohan and three other counsels from Tamil Nadu appeared on behalf of Muniammal in the magistrate's court.
The magistrate asked the SIT for copies of its final report of its investigation. The court has stated previously that orders would be passed only after perusal of the final report by SIT, a statement issued by People's Watch, a human rights organization, said.
Taking a serious view of the notice issued to Muniammal, the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) state vice-president K Kranthi Chaitanya said SIT is required to submit its final report only to the High Court and not the lower court of Tirupati.
The High Court would take a final decision whether to accept or reject the SIT's claim of lack of evidence. The court would furnish a copy of the final report to the petitioner, and only after hearing the counter arguments of the petitioner would the High Court will pronounce its verdict.
When contacted by Express, SIT officials denied that there was any move to close the case. They said the case is very much alive and the investigation was still going on.
The public interest litigation filed by APCLC is due to come up for hearing in the Hyderabad High Court on June 3. Advocate Vrinda Grover is to appear on behalf of the victims.
WHAT SIT DONE?
1. SIT set up to probe whether the killings were police murders
2. Probe drags on for more than a year
3. SIT officials say victims' families not forthcoming with information
4. Now it says it has no evidence
5. It asks victim's relatives if they have an objection to closing the case