THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government for the fourth consecutive time has extended the deadline for completion of a magisterial probe into the encounter death of Tamil Nadu-born Naxal cadre Velmurugan near Meenmutty forest in Wayanad in November 2020.
The police version was that Velmurugan was killed during a gunfight with the Thunderbolt commandos, while human rights activists and relatives of the slain Naxal cadre maintained that it was a cold-blooded murder.
As per the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission guidelines, magisterial inquiries should be conducted at the earliest in encounter deaths. The state government in November 2020 had ordered the then Wayanad collector Adeela Abdulla to conduct the probe. Though she was given three months’ time to conduct the probe and file a report, she could not meet the deadline and sought three extensions, which was granted by the government.
The previous extension was given this September as Adeela had written to the government that the statements of the family members of the slain Maoist cadre could not be recorded as they had shifted from their old residence in Theni to Madurai district and they could not be located. The collector also informed that she was yet to examine the mahazar witnesses and sought another three-month extension of deadline, taking into consideration the Covid scenario as well.
Following this, the government had set November 10 as the new deadline. Meanwhile, A Geetha replaced Adeela as collector. The new collector sought another extension saying that it was not clear whether she could continue with the probe started by the previous collector or have to start a fresh one. The government after considering the representation from the collector gave a two months’ extension (till January 10, 2022) and ordered a continuation of the probe that was initiated by Adeela.
SC norms flouted
As per the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission guidelines, magisterial inquiries should be conducted at the earliest in encounter deaths. The government had ordered the then Wayanad collector Adeela Abdulla to conduct the probe in November 2020.