Encounter: State told to pay relief

J. Balaji

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Andhra Pradesh government to provide a relief of Rs. 5 lakh each to the families of two persons who were fired at and killed by the Adilabad police claiming them to be robbers.

The State government should comply with the order within eight weeks and send a report in this regard, the NHRC said.

The victims -- Ramayampuram Venkatesh and Putti Nagabushanam -- were killed on the outskirts of Nirmal town on December 18, 2003. The police claimed that the duo were robbers and were seen moving in suspicious circumstances with their associates. They started pelting stones when accosted by the police and tried to escape. Due to this the police was compelled to open fire in self-defence.

‘No justification’

The NHRC disagreed with the police version and said that mere pelting of stones by miscreants could not be a justification for the police to open fire at them. Considering the firearm entry wounds seen during the post-mortem and also the other circumstances of the incident, NHRC issued a show-cause notice to the AP government. The latter said it would be provide an ex gratia of Rs. 1lakh each to both the families.

But the Commission opined that the amount was grossly inadequate for the loss of human lives. “The police cannot be a law unto itself. It must learn to respect human life. Even if the police version in this case be taken on its face value, the killing of two persons cannot be justified at all,” it said.

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