Act fast to restore public faith in the rule of law, social activist writes to CBI Director
Social activist Swami Agnivesh has urged CBI Director A.P. Singh to “act to retrieve its [the CBI's] reputation” and carry out an independent and impartial probe into the alleged July 1, 2010, encounter killing of Maoist spokesman Cherukuri Raj Kumar alias Azad, and attack on him (Mr. Agnivesh) and people of three villages of Chhattisgarh by the Salwa Judum and the police personnel in March last year.
In a letter to Mr. Singh, dated January 30, 2012, Swami Agnivesh wanted the CBI chief to act fast “to restore public faith in the rule of law” in both cases. He expressed the hope that the final report of the CBI on Azad's killing, expected to be submitted to the Supreme Court by March, would be free and fair.
Recalling Azad's killing and the subsequent developments which compelled him to write the letter “with deep anguish,” Swami Agnivesh said that on January 14, 2011, he filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking a high-level impartial probe into the encounter. On May 14, the court asked the CBI to submit the interim report within six weeks and the final report in three months. “Disregarding the seriousness of this high-voltage encounter killing involving the Central Home Ministry and the Andhra Pradesh police and the whole peace process which got sadly derailed, the CBI dragged its feet for months beyond the deadline,” the activist said.
The interim report, which was submitted to the Supreme Court, after seven months, admitted that the CBI had not looked into the most basic Central Forensic Laboratory Report. If it were not for the court monitoring, “the CBI would have compromised its already bruised reputation of working under the influence of its political bosses,” Swami Agnivesh said.
About the delay by the CBI on probing the attacks on him and villagers of Tadmetla, Timapuram and Morpalli, when he and his companions were trying to deliver relief materials to the people during March last year, he said that on July 5 the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to file a preliminary report in six weeks. But it was only last month that the CBI visited the villages for the first time.
He said the CBI had till now not recorded the statements of those who accompanied him (during that visit), or the members of the Salwa Judum or the SPOs, who were allegedly involved in the attack.
As in the case of Azad, delay and any leniency shown towards the police during investigation would “give the public an impression that the CBI is not serious about this case, and that it is acting under the control of the Home Ministry.”
The activist said that from news reports, it was evident that the CBI team was accompanied by some 300 security personnel, including some of the SPOs, who were named by the villagers of being present during the arson, killings and rapes. There had also been news reports of beating up of one villager by the forces in Morpalli, even as the investigation was on. The CBI must hold the district police responsible for vitiating the investigation.
According to the Andhra Pradesh police, Azad, along with a journalist, was shot dead, in an exchange of fire in Adilabad district. Azad was a member and spokesman of the Central Committee of the CPI (Maoist).
However, a probe by human rights activists claimed that both of them were shot dead in cold blood and it was a fake encounter.