Victim dragged out of bus: eyewitness

The trauma on the fateful night of April 5 recalled

April 11, 2015 12:35 am | Updated November 16, 2021 06:11 pm IST - MADURAI:

This April 7, 2015 photo shows the scene of encounter at Eethakunta in the Seshachalam hills of Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district.

This April 7, 2015 photo shows the scene of encounter at Eethakunta in the Seshachalam hills of Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district.

In a dramatic disclosure that might cast doubts on the theory of Andhra Pradesh police, an eyewitness told The Hindu here on Friday that he had witnessed the police in plainclothes dragging away his friend Mahendran, one of the alleged woodcutters who was shot dead in the Seshachalam forest near Tirupati on April 7.

R. Sekar of Kandamangalam in Tiruvannamalai district, recalled how the 21-year-old Mahendran was forcibly taken away from the bus on the night of April 5, which was proceeding from Tiruvannamalai to Tirupati.

He said, a couple of days ago Mahendran approached him saying that there was a masonry job to be done. He had accepted the offer and agreed to go along with him.

Four others (all masons), who were also engaged by Mahendran, were in the bus.

“I was seated next to a woman. Suddenly, sometime past midnight, the bus came to a halt at an unscheduled place. A well-built person stepped in (speaking in Telugu) and dragged Mahendran out of the vehicle. Shocked, but scared, I kept quiet….”

“Not knowing what to do, I returned home the following day as I had just Rs 200 with me. On reaching home, I informed Mahendran’s mother about the incident at 6 a.m. In the course of the day, news broke on April 7 that the AP police had killed many woodcutters and Mahendran was one among them.

Legal support

When contacted, People’s Watch executive director Henri Tiphagne said the eyewitness would be accorded all legal support by People’s Watch. Safety of such people is of paramount importance as the evidence is crucial.

Even a small link to the case plays a key role in deciding the case when it comes up for trial.

“Our people are working closely with victims’ families and their relatives in Tiruvannamalai district. The eyewitnesses should gain confidence that they would be secure. There is information that they are under threat,” he said.

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