Woodcutters were not tortured: SIT report

Report: Victims not picked up from bus.

Nellore: After a year-long probe, the Special Investigation Team probing the encounter of 20 woodcutters in the Seshachalam forest near Tirupati on April 7, 2015 made it clear on Friday that there was no evidence that police had picked up the victims while they were travelling in a bus and shot them after torturing.

The police had claimed that the woodcutters, allegedly hired by smugglers, had been found carrying red sander logs and they were forced to open fire after the woodcutters attacked. Contrary to the police’s version, the families of some of those killed had alleged that it was a fake encounter.

The investigation was carried out by SIT under the supervision of the High Court.
After obtaining HC’s permission, the final report has been submitted in the court of fourth additional judicial magistrate first class at Tirupati in connection with a case filed by one Ms Muniamma, wife of A. Sasikumar, one of those who had been killed.

In the complaint lodged 10 days after the encounter, she had alleged that the police had picked up the victims when travelling in a bus and tortured them before killing them. However, the final report has made it clear that there is no evidence to corroborate the allegations.

SIT also gave a notice to the complainant that her charges were not proved.
Police sources said that the investigation was carried out under close supervision of the High Court at every stage.

The court gave patient hearings to all the arguments of the lawyers representing the victims from time to time. It even agreed to a demand for a re-post-mortem in Tamil Nadu itself with doctor’s handpicked from Hyderabad.

Both postmortem reports were submitted directly to the High Court and the Special Investigation Team had collected them from the court for its investigation.
A demand to hand over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation had also come up before the High Court.

But it was not entertained in view of integrity of the team, especially its head, Mr Ravisankar Ayyanar, an IG rank IPS officer from Tamil Nadu. He was appointed as the SIT head soon after he returned to Andhra Pradesh when he was repatriated from central deputation after working in the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

AP Civil Liberties Committee state vice president Kranti Chaitanya expressed surprise over the SIT submitting the final report in the Tirupati court without submitting it in the High Court, which is supervising the probe, first.. Referring to lack of evidence for the fake encounter charges, he said that they would challenge the report in the High Court.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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