VELLORE: Allegations have surfaced that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) interrogating the three witnesses in connection with the Seshachalam encounter case “wrongfully restrained” two witnesses and an advocate in a private institution, Sri Padmavati University, in Tirupati during the early hours on Tuesday.
According to a representative of People’s Watch, an NGO, it received a call from one of the advocates accompanying the witnesses presumably in a panic. The NGO protested with the SIT for going against the AP High Court directive and succeeded in getting the SIT to finally hand over the witnesses to the NGO after much argument. This was denied by SIT police who claimed that the NGO interfered with their investigation. “We were planning to commence the inquiry on Wednesday. But the NGO’s representative protested and took them away,” said Additional Superintendent of Police Chandrasekar of the SIT.
Palaniammal of People’s Watch who was contacted by K Umar, an advocate, who had accompanied the witnesses, said, “Police personnel attached to SIT violated the Hyderabad High Court order and whisked two key witnesses — Elangovan and Sekar — away. The SIT teams did not communicate this either to the Tamil Nadu police teams or us. After reaching Puthur, the SIT sped away with the witnesses.” The HC order says that “....the SIT shall ensure safety and security of all the three witness and the advocates as long as they would be within the jurisdiction of the State of AP.”
They had taken the duo to the guest house (Saaviri) in the University. While Elangovan and advocate K Umar were taken to the guest house at about 2.20 am, the team that took Sekar reached the guest house at 3.50 am on Tuesday. “We were inside the guest house till 8 am. We were not allowed to step out,” said Umar.
Umar said he was worried after Elangovan did not return for 50 minutes when he had gone to attend nature’s call. “I contacted People’s Watch representative and informed them about the situation,” he added.
The three witnesses accompanied by three separate SIT teams retraced each of the witness’s movements starting from their respective villages to Puthur. “The SIT team did not show any interest in stopping in certain places to cross-check my route and took me instead to the University,” said Sekar.
Another witness, A Balachandran of Sitheri hills in Dharmapuri, expressed his unwillingness to go with SIT after Puthur in Chittoor district, fearing for his life.