HYDERABAD:A division bench of the Hyderabad High Court on Wednesday sought to know from the Director General of Police of Andhra Pradesh whether a case of unnatural death has been registered or not with regard to the encounter in which 20 woodcutters hired by red sanders smugglers were killed in Seshachalam hill ranges near Tirupati in Chittoor district on Tuesday.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta and Justice PV Sanjay Kumar was dealing with a lunch motion petition filed by Chilka Chandra Shekar, state general secretary of the Civil Liberties Committee, seeking a direction to book a case under Section 302 of the IPC (murder) against the police personnel involved in the encounter and also to order a CBI probe into the incident. He sought the court to declare the action of the police in carrying out the extra-judicial killing of nearly 20 people in the name of encounter as illegal and arbitrary.
Petitioner’s counsel V Raghunath contended that all the 20 hapless persons were unarmed and belonged to worker category.
The police who have gunned them down mercilessly and brutally on the spot, were now trying to justify the gruesome killing in the name of encounter by alleging that the deceased were carrying out smuggling of red sanders logs.
In fact, the deceased were barely dressed and unarmed and were huddled to a place and killed mercilessly at point blank range. It was a stage-managed encounter, he alleged. The counsel submitted that all the victims hailed from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and in the absence of their relatives, the police are rushing through postmortem to hush up any evidence of illegal killing.
The action of the police is in total breach of rules laid down by the Supreme Court in the matters of extra-judicial killings, he noted.
On the other hand, AP state additional advocate general Dammalapati Srinivas said that the postmortem was conducted as per the law at Ruia hospital in Tirupati.
After hearing both the parties, the bench directed the DGP of AP to file a report before it by Friday explaining whether a case of unnatural death has been registered or not and also narrating the measures taken in conducting the postmortem on the bodies of the victims and preservation of bodies as per the guidelines and procedure prescribed under the law and names of the doctors who conducted the postmortem.
The bench also directed the DGP to explain in his report measures that are being initiated for identification of bodies of the victims by their kith and kin. The bench posted the case for hearing to Friday.
Slain woodcutters Identified
Tirumala: The 20 woodcutters of Tamil Nadu, who were killed in the encounter in the Seshachalam forest of Chittoor district, were identified by Tiruvallur collector Veera Ranga Raghavan and Chittoor collector Siddhardh Jain on Wednesday evening immediately after the postmortem in the SV Medical college, Tirupati.
The list is as follows:-
1. Munaswamy (35) Polur (Taluk), Murugambadi village, Kollaimedu, Tiruvannamalai district.
2. Murthy, (38), Polur (Taluk), Murugambadi village, Kollaimedu, Tiruvannamalai district
3. Mahendran, Gandhi Nagar, Poluru (Taluk), Kollai medu.
4. Palani, (35), Kala Samudram, Polur (Taluk)
5. Perumal (37), Vettagiri palem, Polur Taluk.
6. Sasi kumar (35), Vettagiri palem, Polur Taluk
7. Murugan (45), Vettagiri Palem,
8. Hari krishna, Dharmapuri district, Aruru Vattam Chitteri Panchayath, Arasanatham village.
9. Venkatesan - “
10 Shivakumar - “
11 Lakshman. Chitheri Panchayat, Kalasa pakam village.
12 Lakshman- Chitheri Panchayat
13 Velayudham “
14 Shivalingam. Thiruvannamalai district Javvadi Hills Namyam Battu, Male Kuppasanoor.
15 Govinda Swamy - “
16 Chinna Swamy - “
17 Velli Muthu - “
18 Rajendran, Javvadi Hills, Kaana malai, Male Kavooru
19 Panneer Selvam - “
20. Not yet identified