NELLORE/TIRUPATI:The Atmakur police in Nellore district on Sunday arrested 61 red sanders loggers from Tamil Nadu and seized Rs 2 crore worth red sanders logs from them. Meanwhile, family members of 18 of the 20 deceased loggers, who were killed in an alleged encounter by Andhra Pradesh’s Red Sanders Anti-smuggling Special Task Force five days ago, visited the Chandragiri police station in Tirupati to lodge a complaint against the killings.
Though police officers acknowledged the complainants’ statement, they refused to file the First Information Report, saying a case was already registered and was under investigation. While Muniammal, widow of Sasikumar and a native of Vettagiripalayam in Tiruvannamalai district, lodged a police complaint, others only gave statements terming the encounter ‘fake’.
In her complaint, Muniammal said: “It was not an encounter death but a well-planned crime committed by the Andhra Pradesh STF. They captured innocent people and tortured them brutally. Such an act amounts to culpable homicide, a punishable offence under IPC Section 302. I request the investigating officer to register a case against the police personnel responsible for the killing of my husband in Seshachalam forest on April 7.”
Muniammal’s counsel K Balu said they approached the police after finding that the bodies were slit and cut.
Speaking to the media, Tirupati (West) DSP J Sreenivasulu said it would not be possible to accept the complaint as investigation was underway. However, he said, the complaint would be looked into and a decision would be made on whether to file an FIR.
In Atmakur, after being informed about the entry of the loggers into the forest, police officers and personnel started combing operations in the dense jungles of many neighbouring villages, from Saturday night. Speaking to the media, Atmakur DSP A Subba Reddy said police teams conducted raids in the Veligonda forests and arrested the loggers while they were cutting the trees.
Meanwhile, the police intensified searches in areas on Tamil Nadu border such as Seetharamapuram, Kavali, Tada and the 157-km long coastal belt in Nellore district to prevent the entry of smugglers. The police are also watching waterways in the forest areas.
Panel Rejects Encounter Theory
Dharmapuri: After paying a visit to the families of victims at Chettari hills here, a rights fact-finding committee has refuted the encounter theory of AP police and said the loggers were murdered by the STF in the Seshachalam forests last Tuesday.