April 23, 2015, VELLORE/TIRUVANNAMALAI: An eight-member fact-finding team comprising high-level officials has found instances where the bodies of some victims in the Seshachalam encounter were brutally disfigured and tortured as they conducted fact-finding inquiries prior to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) passing a detailed order in Hyderabad on April 23.
Terming the ‘encounter’ cold blooded and pre-meditated murder, one of the members of the eight member fact-finding team and former member of NHRC, Satyabrata Pal, said that he has seen hundreds of cases while serving as a member in the NHRC for five years but rarely had he come across as brutal and as inhuman an act as the killings.
“The men were abducted by armed police and taken to Tirupathi forest area. The (victims’) family members told us that their husbands’ and fathers’ hands were missing, toes were cut, noses chopped and teeth broken,” said Pal. He added there is no evidence to support the ‘encounter theory.’
He also wondered how in an encounter there were no woodcutters who sustained injuries and lived, which is highly unusual. In this ‘encounter’, 20 men were killed, not one woodcutter was injured and lives to tell the tale. “It is a shameful act of the AP police,” said retired Director General of Police of BSF E N Rammohan, one of the eight members. He along with Pal met the family members of some of the victims who hailed from Chittari Hills.
“The persons killed in the act are poor labourers. A (high-power) commission should be established to probe the smuggling and the whole thing should be dug up,” he stated.
Retired judge of Bombay High Court, Hosbet Suresh, and Honorary Chairperson of Lok Raj Sangathan, who leads the fact-finding team met families of victims in Polur Taluk.
He said, “No law in the country permits police to kill. They have to prevent crimes and not kill innocent people.” The men were killed elsewhere and their bodies were taken to the forest to stage an encounter drama. It is an act of police terrorism.”
Citing Hyderabad High Court’s direction to register a case against the police under Section 302 (murder) of the IPC, the former judge insisted that 20 cases of murder should be filed against the police involved. “Thirteen women, all aged between 20 and 30, are now widows. What is the future for these young widows with small children and elderly parents?” Suresh asked.
Forensic expert, Dr Xavier Suresh said that AP police deliberately left “the bodies exposed to sunlight for several hours. The police did this purposely to destroy evidence on the mutilated bodies,” said the expert and added that fresh post-mortems would divulge the cause of their death and answer many questions.
Advocate B S Ajeetha declared that some of the victims’ skins were darker than usual and some of the victims’ bodies were even skinless as if they had been burnt, while MLA (Ramanathapuram) M H Jawahirullah said that the AP police’s actions are far worse than thiose committed by ISIS.
Executive Director of People’s Watch, Tamil Nadu (PWTN), Henri Tiphange said that they would send a questionnaire to AP Police to answer as they look for an explanation.