Encounter killings of Madhav and seven Maoists in Nallamala forest
The CPI (Maoist) AP State Secretary Madhav alias Burra Chenniah Goud and seven Maoists including five women were killed in encounter with the police on 23rd July 2006. The alleged encounter took place in the dense Nallamala forest contiguous to Erragondapalem Mandal of Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh
The Director General of Police Mr Swaranjt Sen and other senior police officers have claimed that the incident is a genuine encounter. The SP of Prakasam district Mr. Balasubramanyam said that “a Greyhounds team searching Nekkanti are a (tribal hamlet) chanced up some activity near Doraboyanipenta (another tribal hamlet) at 10 K.M on 23rd July 2006. The Greyhounds team saw some pitched tents and cooking arrangements. It opened fire and the Maoists retaliated. The exchange of fire continued for one hour. Police later searched the area and found eight bodies lying scattered in a radius of 2k.m.The police further stated that ‘some of the Maoist leaders might have escaped or died while fleeing for life’ The Home Minister Mr Janareddy while congratulating the police, categorically said that encounter killings are inevitable to maintain ‘law and order.
Disbelieving the version of the police the Human Rights organisations including APCLC have condemned the incident and described it as a fake encounter and fall out of brutal strategy of ‘hot pursuit' of Naxalites to wipe out the movement.
In the background of recent serial encounter killings in the state, seriousness of the present incident and the confusion about the death of state level leader of the CPI (Maoist), a six member Fact Finding Team (FFT) of APCLC inquired into the incident and brought forth the following facts and circumstances regarding the ‘encounter’.
The team with great difficulty went inside the Nallamala forest and located the exact place where the encounter took place. During the course of inquiry the team members visited tribal hamlets in the forest and talked and interviewed the people. The Team met persons who had helped the police in carrying dead bodies down from the hill and also the tribal in Nekkanti hamlet who cleared the trees for preparing the Helipad. The team came across the shepherds on the way to Palutla village. They gave crucial information about the incident as the injured Maoists met them on the way while running for safety. Finally the Fact Finding Team met the DSP in Markapuram town and talked to the SP of the Prakasam district and sought some clarification on the alleged encounter.
The scene at the place of encounter
The incident of encounter took place on Kodavatilanka hill situated between Palutla village and Nekkantipenta at a distance of 15 and 10KM. respectively. The team reached the scene on 26th July. The team found utensils, kit bags, medical kit and some articles scattered all over the place. By watching two ovens and the substance in the bowels the team understood that at the time of incident the squad members might have been involved in cooking.
About 20 steel plates of which five were found damaged. And 30 to 50 kgs of rice, some tea and milk powder pockets found scattered on the ground. The team could observe torn out notebooks, letter pads and two documents relating to Mahaboobnagar and Nalgonda district plenary meetings held in 2004. There were four sentry posts arranged to guard themselves and to keep a watch on the police. The team members saw three bullet marks on the trunks of the trees and a blood marks near the heli-pad.
From careful observation of the scene one can reasonably infer that there were no adequate arrangements for holding a state level meeting by the Maoists. As the number of steel plates found at the place is only 20, and the quantum of rice left may be sufficient for two or three days. The Fact Finding team believes that 10 to 12 Maoists might have gathered there either for review their programmes or to conduct political classes. There was no evidence to indicate that the Maoists had planned to hold a State level meeting and the police successfully disturbed it.
Exchange of fire
The firing might have taken place between 7.30 and 8.00 are on 23rd July. The police themselves have admitted that first they fired at the women who was on sentry duty. The injured Maoists while escaping from the scene of encounter met the Shepherds on their way and informed that five of their comrades died in the firing and five members had gone for fetching water and looking after security arrangement. Soon after hearing the firing they might have escaped for safety.
The tribals who had gone for bringing down the dead bodies overheard the discussion among the greyhounds, and the same was informed to the team members. The essence of conversation is that ‘if the Maoists had been alert and used the weapons there would have been more casualties on the side of greyhounds.’
The DSP Mr Ranganath also conformed that a greyhounds team consisting of 25 members participated in the action and first fired at the women sentry. It appears that there was no rapid fire from both the sides. There might be some resistance from the Maoists. Since the Maoists were just reached and settling down on hill, the greyhounds might have encircled the Maoists and fired pointedly. As per the injured Maoists only five of their comrades fell down to the bullets. The remaining three might have been captured, tortured and later killed by the greyhounds. Those who had gone for fetching water might have escaped immediately after hearing the gunshots.
The DGP in his press brief told that they have good intelligence out put and informer network to trace the movements of armed squads in the forest. The DGP said with jubilation that the greyhounds team has successfully completed the task. This implies that the police have been pursuing a policy of hunting down the Naxalites in the guise of encounters.
Based on the information gathered from the tribals, material at the site, the first hand information left by the injured Maoist with the Shephards, the team is of the opinion that police had a clear information of the movement of the armed squad, encircled it and killed. There might be minimum resistance from the Maoists. If the greyhounds had maintained some restraint they could have captured the victims alive. The intention is to kill the naxalites.
In order to prevent the police from violating all procedures of law and the NHRC directions that to be followed in encounter killings, APCLC moved the High Court of AP and sought the following directions:
- To preserve the dead bodies and take necessary steps and preserve them from decomposition.
- To conduct post-mortem examination by the experts, shift the dead bodies either to Osmania Medical Hospital, Hyderabad or Medical Hospital, Guntur.
- To handover the dead bodies to the concerned relatives after proper identification.
- To prosecute the greyhounds or persons responsible for the encounter killings under 302 IPC.
The Honourable High Court responded very favourably and directed the State Government and concerned officials to perform post-mortem by the specialists, to identity and handover the dead bodies to the relatives. This must be done in the presence of APCLC president Mr Subhas Chandra Bose (petitioner), the district judge and the collector. APCLC President complained that the post-mortem was conducted hurriedly, only two relatives are allowed to identify the body. The CD's of the post-mortem were sealed and signed by the APCLC President, District Judge and sent to the High Court.
Indeed, it was an Herculean task to bring the dead bodies and send them to the mortuary. First, the tribals protested to carry the dead bodies and later accepted afraid of future consequences. There was unreasonable delay in identification and transporting the dead bodies. Five days after the incident the relatives received the dead bodies. They found it difficult to identify their kith and Kin list of victims.
The list of the victims
Madav alias Burra Chinnaiah Goud alias Sri Sailam, A.P. State Secretary, CPI (Maoist). Karimnagar District; Rajitha alias Suseela, Hyderabad; Viraya Lakshmi alias Shyamalakka, Hyderabad; Ramesh alias Eswar, Anantapuram; Rama, Ardavedu Mandal, Lakshmipuram village, Prakasam District (Commander, Nallmalla Forest Division Committee Secretary); Nagamani - Julakallu Village, Piduguralla Mandal, Guntur District (Squad member); Uday Kumar alias Ramana, Hyderabad; Kusuma alias Sangeetha - Ramajipalli, Pedda Sankarapalli Mandal, Mahaboobnagar District.
Police have made all attempts to suppress the evidence. How can they collect CD's, wireless sets, other documents before the inquest? Any revenue officials do not endorse the amount of cash they recovered at the spot. Although the inquest has been conducted by the officers concerned, it is only the police announced the details of the articles and things at the scene of offence. Will the police produce before the court the material that they have collected from the scene! APCLC has filed a writ petitions on this extra judicial murders and it has come for hearing before a division bench. How the Honourable High Court responds and what would be the wisdom of and judicial mind of the court on this issue of blatant violation of basic and fundamental right to life. – General Secretary, Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC)