Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisation
The police version of the ‘encounter is that on the early hours of the 7th, STF came across more than a hundred ‘smugglers’ carrying red sanders logs. When challenged, the ‘smugglers’ attacked the force by pelting stones. In self-defense, the STF fired ‘random’ shots, which resulted in the death of 20 people.
The CDRO team’s observations at the encounter sites raise serious doubts about the police claims. The highlights of the observation are:
1. The part of the forest where the encounter took place has no red sanders. There are no red sander trees within many kilometers of the site.
2. Only twenty dead bodies were recovered (along with a few logs). Which begs the question, what happened to the rest? Where are the injured? Where are the arrests? What happened to the many logs that they were supposed to have been carrying?
3. Blood stains are only found on the spots where the bodies were lying. There are no random blood marks on the ground, as one would expect in a random firing.
4. There are no bullet marks anywhere on the encounter sites. No bullet holes on trees, the clay mounds or on the ground. In the ‘random’ firing every single bullet seems to have found it’s mark – the upper body of the victims. (In fact, media reports say, quoting both the witnesses who saw the bodies and the doctor who conducted the autopsy, that the bullet injuries are primarily on the upper body and the shots have been fired at close range.)
5. The encounter sites are not stony at all. There are simply not enough stones to throw. (And we are talking of people carrying a very heavy load, using both hands to balance a log on their shoulders, throwing stones at an STF party armed with automatic rifles.)
6. The bodies were not lying among the trees or spread all over the space, as one would expect in a random encounter. The bodies were very conveniently found lying next to each other in two clearings inside the forest. Both encounter sites are clearings, and more or less accessible from the Jeepable road. Places where it is easy to bring in bodies (or people to be shot).
7. When the team tried to meet to forest officials to take their version of events, the team was threatened with dire consequences. Eventually, a case was registered against the team under the Forests Act for trespassing (other charges may also have been slapped). Those charged include rights activist Mr.Chandrashekar (general secretary CLC, AP) who had moved AP high court, demanding that a murder case be registered under section 302, and due process laid down by the supreme court be followed and that the case be investigated by a neutral central agency like CBI and not AP police (who is the accused in this case).
1. Case has to be registered under section 302 of IPC against the police personal who are responsible for the killing of red sandal coolies.
2. An independent inquiry commission should be appointed to inquire this case without the involvement of AP police who is the prime accused.
3. Immediately withdraw the cases that has been charged against the activists.
Organisations part of the national fact finding committee.
CLC (AP and Telengana),
HRF (AP and Telangana),
PUDR (Delhi), CPDR (Mumbai),