Hyderabad: The Human Rights Forum (HRF) on Friday said the alleged encounter of top Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad and journalist Hemachandra Pandey was an extra-judicial execution by the state. The forum said Azad and Hemachandra did not die in the exchange of fire on the intervening night of July 1-2 last year but were whisked away by police and later shot dead in the forests of Adilabad district.
After submitting an affidavit to CBI joint director V V Lakshmi Narayana here, HRF state general secretary V S Krishna welcomed the CBI move to register a case under appropriate sections of the IPC, including Section 302 and criminal conspiracy, against the police. He said police cannot wash their hands off the encounter deaths after registering a case under Section 307 of IPC.
The HRF said the two were picked up by the police from Nagpur on July 1 several hours before being brought to the Sarkepally forest area and shot dead from a close range.
Bhujanga Rao, Adilabad HRF district general secretary, said if there was a fierce exchange of fire as was being stated by police (they said that over 300 rounds were fired in the course of the encounter), there should have been many bullets that would have hit the trees all around as well as clear signs of bullets ricocheting off the rocks. In fact, Adilabad SP Pramod Kumar and Kaghaznagar DSP Sashidhar Raju claimed a police combing party equipped with night vision devices was fired upon by a group of 25 armed Maoists and that the cops returned the fire in self-defence.
“It is impossible for the police to have come out unscathed because the Maoists had the advantage of terrain being on a hilltop. Also, tribals residing in the area did not hear any prolonged exchange of fire,” the HRF leaders pointed out.
Significantly, the post-mortem report clearly indicated that the bullets that hit the two were fired at a close range.
The HRF said the Azad encounter case must be registered as two crimes under Sections 307 and 302 of IPC respectively. The first was a crime of attempt to murder by the deceased and the other a crime of culpable homicide amounting to murder by the cops purportedly in self-defence. TOI