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Activists, organisations deprecate fake Telangana encounter; demand CBI probe

By TCN News,

New Delhi/Lucknow: Three days after five Muslim under-trial youth were killed in what police called as “encounter” – denied by respective families calling it as deliberate killings, a number of organisations have come out heavily on the Telangana government and demanded a CBI probe into the gory incident.

Lucknow-based Rihai Manch, an organisation working ‘For Resistance Against Repression’, staged a protest demonstration against fake encounters at Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and demanded a CBI probe into the incidents. A protest demonstration at Gandhi statue, Hazratganj was held by Rihai Manch along with several other political and social organisations against fake encounter of 28 people at Nalgonda, Warangal in Telangana and Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh in last four days. “All these fake encounters need to be probed by CBI under the supervision of a sitting Supreme Court.”

Activists, organisations deprecate fake Telangana encounter; demand CBI probe

Holding placards with ‘Stop replication of Gujarat’s fake encounter model in Andhra Pradesh and Telanga’; ‘Order CBI inquiry in fake encounters’ and ‘Stop terror mongering by linking Lucknow ATM loot incident with SIMI’, the organization also demanded immediate suspension of SSP Yashaswi Yadav, who, it claimed, was fear mongering about terror in Uttar Pradesh.

“Post Modi government taking charge, the agencies have been given a free hand to eliminate innocents – sometimes poor labourers, sometimes Muslims – in the name of national security,” Shahnawaz Alam, spokesperson of Rihai Manch, said.

Five under trials, accused in terror cases, namely Mohammed Vikaruddin, Amjed Ali, Mohammed Haneef, Riyaz Khan and Izhar Khan on Tuesday morning were shot dead while they were being shifted from Warangal prison to Hyderabad Criminal court for a trial. Police claimed to have opened fire when the accused tried to snatch a weapon from a policeman in the running vehicle between Aler and Jangaon, about 80 km from Hyderabad in an area bordering Warangal and Nalgonda districts. However, their families, lawyers and civil rights activists find the police version questionable and have termed it as a ‘revenge’ and ‘retaliation’ against the death of cops in another encounter few days back.

In Delhi, the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA) too has condemned the killing of over 20 woodcutters in the Seshachalam forests and the five under-trials in Nalagonda, Telangana. “The scale of this violence is unprecedented and suggests how entrenched the culture of impunity is in the state police,” JTSA said in a release.

“The photographic and video evidence emerging from the police van in which five undertrials – alleged terrorists – were killed by the police party, which was escorting them from Warangal jail to a court in Hyderabad strongly suggests this to be a case of cold-blooded execution in custody. The arms on the dead bodies of these five men – with their hands handcuffed to the seats of the police vehicle – appear to be clearly planted in order to ‘dress’ this up as an exchange of fire. Is it a mere coincidence that the judgement in the case of these five men was due to be pronounced soon?” the teachers asked.

All efforts must be made to ensure that the post mortem reports and other evidence such as ballistics and the clothes worn by the deceased in both the cases are secured and not tampered with, the statement said, adding, “Time-bound high level judicial probes must be conducted into both the killings. Simultaneously, cases of unnatural death must be filed immediately and special public prosecutors appointed in consultation with the families to prosecute the policemen who participated in the massacres.”

Drawing parallel to the recent decision by a court in Delhi in connection with the 1987 Hashimpura massacre, the JTSA said, “In heinous crimes such as cold-blooded massacres, how can there be no means to ensure that the investigating agencies and prosecution do their duty in fixing responsibility? Unless such a procedure or mechanism is evolved, justice will always elude the mechanical and cynical application of laws.”

Amnesty International – India, a trans-national human rights watch NGO – demanded the Telanga government to order an independent criminal investigation into the death of five men in Telangana on April 7.

“Video footage given to Amnesty International India by a journalist appears to show the five undertrials inside the police van after they were killed. All five appear to be handcuffed. Impunity for extrajudicial executions is a serious issue in India,” said Abhirr V P, campaigner at the Amnesty International, India. “Authorities in Telangana need to urgently conduct an independent criminal investigation into the case to determine if it involved extrajudicial executions disguised as ‘encounter’ killings.”

According to guidelines issued by the National Human Rights Commission in 2010, alleged ‘fake encounters’ must be investigated by an independent agency. In September 2014, the Supreme Court stated in the PUCL versus State of Maharashtra case that killings in police encounters require independent investigations.

“The UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions require that “[t]here shall be thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of all suspected cases of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions, including cases where … reliable reports suggest unnatural death in the above circumstances.”