VISAKHAPATNAM: The Human Rights Forum Friday demanded an unbiased investigation by an independent agency into the alleged extra-judicial killings of 20 woodcutters from Tamil Nadu in Seshachalam forests of Andhra Pradesh and five undertrials in Alair of Telangana State recently. The HRF wanted the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the incidents and order filing of cases against the policemen involved in both the incidents under murder charges.
The HRF team visited the families of the deceased in both the incidents and also staged a dharna along with human rights activists from different civil society organisations against the encounter killings in Visakhapatnam Thursday.
HRF general secretary VS Krishna said, “The woodcutters who were allegedly shot dead by the police in the Seshachalam forests belonged to poor families. Of them, 13 were from the Malayali tribal communities settled in Tamil Nadu.”
“The innocent woodcutters from remote tribal areas who earn a daily wage of less than Rs 150 per day in their native were lured by the smugglers who promised them wages of Rs 2,000-Rs 3,000,” Krishna added. It was found that the agents informed the woodcutters that they had all the permissions and lured them to join the groups to earn good money. The woodcutters were all picked up by the police, while the former were on their way to the forests and wer later shot dead, the HRF alleged. A detailed report into the incident was submitted by the HRF fact finding committee to the National Human Rights Commission which held a meeting in Hyderabad Thursday.
CPM Visakhapatnam district secretary K Lokanadham alleged that Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu was behaving like a tyrant and was encouraging such extra-judicial killings by the police. He stated that such incidents reflect the anti-people policies of the governments and their fear of public backlash on their policies.
Other speakers at the dharna felt that the Andhra Pradesh police failed to nab the kingpins of red sanders mafia who are enjoying their lives in the neighbouring states and abroad, instead choosing to target innocent tribal workers who were charmed by the mafia and their offering of huge wages.