The Tamil Nadu government, while strongly critcising the Andhra police action, termed it as “a case of gross violation of human rights”.Amid growing pressure from all quarters, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu today met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and briefed him about the encounter.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also issued notice to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police of Andhra Pradesh over the killing of 20 red sandalwood smugglers.”We have asked for a report from DGP Andhra and also Chief Secretary, we will do the needful,” KG Balakrishnan, Chairman NHRC said on Chittoor encounter.
The NHRC has given two weeks time to the Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary and the DGP to explain the police action and the subsequent killing of the smugglers.The state police has said in its defence that they were combing the Seshachalam forest range when they intercepted around 100 red sandalwood smugglers, who attacked them with stones and axes.
However, it is being alleged that the police action was unwarranted as the red sandalwood smugglers were not armed with sophisticated weapons. The Andhra Pradesh Police is facing allegations that there was no need for them to fire on the smugglers since they had retaliated by throwing sticks and stones and not gun fire.
The state government is expected to give a detailed reply explaining the operation and also brief the NHRC about the red sandalwood smuggling, which is rampant in the area.A magisterial inquiry has also been ordered by the Chittoor District Collector into the “police encounter” in which 20 alleged red sanders smugglers were shot dead in Seshachalam hill ranges in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday.
“The Additional District Magistrate, who is also the District Revenue Officer (DRO), has been asked to inquire into the entire events and submit a report to me. It will be subsequently submitted to the government,” Chittoor District Collector Siddharth Jain told PTI.
“The report will go into details and reasons for the police opening fire and whether the situation warranted it,” Jain said, adding the DRO has been asked to inquire into the matter and submit the report at the earliest. Six police personnel were also injured in the attack by the smugglers.
The Andhra Pradesh government had in June 2013 formed a Special Task Force to check smuggling of red sandalwood. The STF comprises officers from police and forest departments and it has been carrying out raids on the hideouts across Kadapa, Chittoor, Nellore and Kurnool districts to check the rampant felling of the red sander trees.
Meanwhile, severe protests and incidents of stone-pelting on Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) operated buses in Tamil Nadu were reported today.The APSTRC officials are yet to decide on cancelling bus services to Tamil Nadu.APSRTC operates around 35 buses to Chennai and other destinations in Tamil Nadu.