Union Home Ministry seeks reports on encounters

HYDERABAD: The Central Ministry of Home Affairs sought detailed reports from both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Governments with regards to the reported police encounters in the two states on Tuesday.

The reported encounter in the Seshachalam forests of Chittoor district alleged that 20 Red Sander smugglers were killed when they attacked the police and forest officials with stones and deadly weapons that led police to open fire.

In another encounter reported, a five-member “terrorists” gang of Viqaruddin was gunned down by the police on the national highway near Alair in Telangana State, after an attempt was made by the gang members to escape while being brought from the Central Jail in Warangal to Nampally Court in Hyderabad.

The AP Government and the Police claimed that it was and encounter jointly launched by the police and forest officials to nab scores of smugglers who had sneaked into the forest area to cut and carry away the valuable and highly in demand Red Sanders logs.

However, the Tamil Nadu authorities, civil rights activists and opposition political parties alleged that it was a fake encounter and brutal massacre of innocent coolies who belong to the bordering Vellore and Thiruvannmalai districts, lured to enter the forest area by the smugglers. Even the AP Congress Committee had petitioned the National Human Rights Commission terming it as a fake encounter and murder of innocent coolies.

Even as protests over the “mass killings of Tamils” continued to rage in Tamil Nadu with dharnas and rallies, the civil rights activists filed a lunch motion petition in the High Court at Hyderabad demanding a CBI probe into the Seshachalam forest drama and to provide adequate compensation to the families of those killed.

Doubts are also being raised in different quarters over the killing of the five-member Viqaruddin gang on the Warangal-Hyderabad national highway. The bodies of the deceased militants were found handcuffed and chained and lying in the police van.As a result, it is being argued that there was no scope for the militants to open fire on the police escorts. Also, even if Viqaruddin had snatched a weapon and opened fire on the RSI escort as was being claimed by the authorities, it is being questioned the need for indiscriminate firing on the four others who seated deep inside the van.

As matter of fact,Viqaruddin’s father and even MIM President and MP Asaduddin Owaisi had alleged that it was a pre-planned murder to eliminate the deceased persons as their trial in the court was coming to an end. Viqarudin’s father was also planning to knock the doors of the High Court in this regard.

With divergent opinions over the so called encounters in both AP and Telangana states, and as they were steadily snowballing into a major political controversy, the Ministry Home Affairs sought a detailed report from both the state governments.

Informed sources said the central government was more perturbed about the Seshachalam forest episode as the anti-BJP forces were trying to exploit the incident by comparing it to “genocide” of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Taking a serious note about terrorist elements suddenly surfacing in Telangana State, the Central Government is understood to be keen that apart from the State Police, the NIA should probe deeper to unearth the presence of any sleeper cells of ISI and SIMI in the state and derail their activities in time. (NSS)

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