15 April, Hyderabad
The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes will soon send a team to ascertain the facts in Police Firing in Seshachalam forest area in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh where 20 people were killed in the April 7 encounter.
NCST is sending the team in the wake of a petition that the deceased were from tribal communities belonging to Tamil Nadu. The team will visit the firing spot and hold discussions with government authorities. The Commission also sought a report from AP Government over the firing.
Earlier, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had directed the Andhra Pradesh government to name all officials who were on duty when the encounter occurred on April 7. NHRC ordered that a report be submitted before April 22.
The commission also directed the Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police to conduct a magisterial inquiry by a Judicial Magistrate first class under Section 176 (1)(A) of the CrPC. The NHRC move came after it recorded the statements of two survivors of the encounter and wants the post mortem to be conducted as per guidelines issued by NHRC.
Meanwhile, with immense pressure building up from NHRC, opposition parties and Tamil Nadu politicians on the Seshachalam encounter, the Andhra Pradesh government has stated that no ex-gratia will be given to the kin of the 20 smugglers.
Minister of Forests and Environment Bojjala Gopalakrishna Reddy, questioned the Tamil Nadu government whether ex-gratia was given to sandalwood smuggler Veerappan’s kin. He defended the policemen who took part in the encounter.