Chittoor killings: 'Has anybody been arrested or questioned,' High Court asks AP police

Hyderabad HC asked Andhra Pradesh Police to furnish the case diary

Hyderabad: The Hyderabad High Court on Friday directed Andhra Pradesh Police to furnish the case diary relating to a case registered in connection with the killing of 20 people in police firing in Seshachalam forests of Chittoor district on April 7.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta and Justice P V Sanjay Kumar directed the Investigating Officer (IO) to produce before the court the case diary on April 28, while declining to accept for now the defence prayer seeking a CBI probe into the case.

Read: 20 dead in encounter with alleged red sanders smugglers in Chittoor forests, Andhra Pradesh

The bench sought to know from Additional Advocate General D Srinivas about the stage of investigation pertaining to the case. "After FIR has been registered, has the IO examined any person? Is anybody arrested or questioned," it asked.

The AAG informed the bench that preliminary steps were undertaken with regard to the matter. However, the complainant (Muniyammal and others) refused to record their statements before the police.

"A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been constituted to probe the incident," the AAG said.

Read: Seshachalam is first murder case on AP policemen

Defence counsel V Raghunath submitted before the court that the FIR was registered only on April 14 and that too against "unknown" STF personnel, which he asserted "was a malicious intention to screen (shelter or protect) the culprits."

To this, the court observed: "At this stage (FIR against) "unknown" is appropriate. If you have any names (of those involved in the firing), tell the names. You can make a statement before magistrate."

When defence counsel insisted on the need for a CBI probe into the case, the bench responded: "You have not produced any (biased) material to substantiate the allegation. Therefore, at this stage we are not satisifed...unless you are in a position to establish that the IO is not conducting investigation impartially."

Read: Chittoor killings: Family of deceased demand jobs, better compensation

"Mere oral statement on questioning or doubting investigation won't do. Our objective is impartial, fair and independent investigation," the bench said, noting that under the court's monitoring even an "ordinary IO can do miracles."

"You (IO) must proceed with investigation. Let us see progress. How investigation has progressed. We direct the IO to produce case diary of investigation," the bench added.

Twenty people were gunned down in Seshachalam hill ranges of Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh on April 7 in an operation by the police. The state government had earlier this week submitted to the High Court the first postmortem report of the 20 people killed in the firing and re-postmortem report of six persons.

Read: NHRC favours judicial enquiry by Andhra Pradesh Government into Chittoor killings

The High Court had on April 13 made Muniyammal, the wife of one of the victims Sashi Kumar, a co-petitioner in the case filed by Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) which alleged that the firing incident was a "brutal and planned murder" by the STF, and those killed in the firing were poor labourers from Tamil Nadu.

In her complaint with Chandragiri police in Chittoor, Muniyammal alleged that "it was not an encounter death (as claimed by the police), but was a well-planned and organised crime, committed by the STF (special task force of police)."

Subsequently, based on her complaint, AP police registered an FIR under sections 302 (murder) and 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) against "unknown" STF personnel.

( Source : PTI )
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