Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) strongly condemns the killing of Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad and a free lance journalist Hemchandra Pandey at Adilabad District in Andhra Pradesh on 2nd July 2010. It has been claimed by the Andhra Pradesh police that Azad and one Sahadeva were killed in an encounter near Sarkepalli village in Jogapur forests in Wankhidi mandal, Adilabad, while some other Maoist members escaped. However, the police version is contradicted by media reports which claim that both Azad and Hemchandra Pandey (Sahadev) were picked up by the Andhra Pradesh police from Nagpur at 11 am of 1st July 2010 and brought to Adilabad and killed there. It has also been reported in the press that villagers deny having heard of any gun shots between 10pm to 2am in the night of the alleged encounter. Also it is strange that no policemen was injured in a 4 hrs long encounter. Thus, the police version of the incident is full of contradictions. And the killing could be a part of the official policy to use encounters as a means to eliminate unwanted voices through extra judicial killings.
In its directive of 1996, NHRC had clearly stated that all cases of encounters are cognizable offence until the police version is verified by an independent investigating agency and that ‘whenever information is received of encounter and death is ascertained as a result of firing by the police during the encounter, prima facie the ingredients of culpable homicide under appropriate sections of the IPC are satisfied and a magisterial inquiry shall be instituted against the encounter’. An Andhra Pradesh High Court’s ruling on encounter killings states that ‘the state is responsible to register an FIR against the encounter killing and the plea of self defence be proven before the court of law by the involved security personnel’.
In the light of all of this, PUDR demands registration of an FIR and initiation of investigation into the incident of killing of Azad and Hemchandra Pandey, without any delay. We also demand an independent magisterial inquiry as per the NHRC guidelines.
4th July, 2010