HYDERABAD: Favouring a judicial probe into the recent encounter killing of 20 woodcutters from Tamil Nadu in the Seshachalam forest, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday decided to send its own team to the area for an on-the-spot inquiry within a week.
The NHRC, led by its chairperson Justice KG Balakrishnan, took up hearing on the encounter on the second day of the commission’s camp sitting here in Hyderabad. The NHRC members heard complaints of rights activists, representing the encounter victims, and the Andhra Pradesh government’s submissions patiently for over an hour.
“Why hasn’t a judicial inquiry been ordered?” Justice KG Balakrishnan questioned the AP government, and pointed out that it was the norm in such cases. In response, AP police counsel M Naga Rahu explained that the State government had ordered a magisterial inquiry and informed that a special investigation team was also being constituted to probe in the incident.
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While expressing displeasure over the State government’s failure to implement its April 13 orders, the commission issued a series of directives to its representatives. It wanted them to submit details of the police personnel injured, medical reports, call data of officials, wireless messages and vehicles used during the encounter among others. The activists representing the victims demanded a judicial inquiry as per 176(1) A of the CrPC, Henri Tiphagne, a rights activist, sought protection for the witnesses following which the commission directed the government to facilitate recording of witness statements in Tamil Nadu under Section 164 of the CrPC. The commission gave two weeks to the AP government to submit all the reports.