Court moved for judicial probe into Adilabad encounter

January 13, 2011 02:47 am | Updated November 28, 2021 09:22 pm IST - New Delhi

The Supreme Court has been moved for a judicial inquiry into the alleged encounter killings of Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad, spokesperson of Communist Party of India (Maoist), and journalist Hemchandra Pandey by the Andhra Pradesh police on the night of July 1, 2010.

A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha will hear on Friday two petitions filed by Swami Agnivesh and Bineeta Pandey, wife of Hemchandra Pandey.

The petitioners said the post-mortem reports and fact-finding carried out by the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations clearly indicated that it was not a genuine encounter and that Azad and Pandey were killed in blatant violation of their rights under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

Azad was carrying the letter from Swami Agnivesh for peace talks when he was taken into custody along with Pandey. Then Swami Agnivesh sent a letter to Azad suggesting three possible dates for starting 72-hour suspension of armed resistance by the CPI (Maoist) and simultaneous cessation of action by the government forces. During that period, the government would invite the Maoists for talks and initiate a mutual ceasefire agreement, the petitioners said.

However, on the intervening night of July 1-2, 2010, both Azad and Pandey were killed. According to the CPI (Maoist), Azad was scheduled to meet a local contact Sahadev in Nagpur at 11 a.m. on July 1 and travel to the Dandakaranya forests for meeting senior Maoists to discuss Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram's proposal and likely dates for a ceasefire. But he never turned up for the meeting.

“The alleged encounter, if proved fake — as indicated by the CDRO fact- finding report — is in blatant violation of Article 21.” The refusal to initiate an inquiry, despite questions raised about the veracity of police investigation by human rights activists, organisations and sections of the media, and the disruption it caused to the peace process initiated by the Home Minister himself were “unreasonable and arbitrary” and raised serious questions about the bona fides of the Home Ministry, the petitioners said..

Further, the Andhra Pradesh police acted in blatant violation of the revised NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) guidelines on encounters by not registering an FIR on the alleged encounter and by not handing over the investigation to the State CB-CID. Swami Agnivesh (first petitioner) pointed out that he met the Home Minister, who, however, turned down his demand for a judicial inquiry. The Minister's stand was that such a step could be taken only by the Andhra Pradesh government as the encounter took place in Adilabad. Hence the present petitions for a direction to the Centre and the State government to order a judicial probe.

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