//'Encounters' in Andhra Pradesh

'Encounters' in Andhra Pradesh

Letter to the editor:

Friends, In reaction to the recent spate of encounter deaths in the State of Andhra Pradesh (just yesterday 6 people more were murdered, and today 12 more – in last 15 days, 48 deaths) – this is a letter submitted to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), on 24/04/2000, by the representatives of All India People's Resistance Forum, Revolutionary Writers Association and the All-India League for Revolutionary Culture (AILRC).Shouldn't we (on it's own terms) also protest these extrajudicial murders? regards -Chukka Srinivas.

To The Chairman National Human Rights Commission
New Delhi 24/04/2000

Sir, We submit the following for your kind consideration, investigation and action in order to have a check on the gross violation of right to life in Andhra Pradesh. No day passes in Andhra Pradesh without a fake-encounter in which people are brutally murdered by the state machinery. In the recent days, the violence perpetrated by the Andhra Pradesh Government through its police forces assisted by the paramilitary forces has increased to the unprecedented level. In 1998, 275 people were killed in the name of encounters. In 1999, 226 people were killed in the same manner. This year, in the last 3-� months already the number of fake-encounter killings crossed 100. In the last 15 days period itself, more than 30 people were murdered by the police forces.

The present situation in Andhra Pradesh shocks a common citizen of this country. We feel that an urgent intervention by the National Human Rights Commission into this situation in Andhra Pradesh is needed. The Andhra Pradesh Government imposed a ban on the CPI (ML) (Peoples War) and six mass organizations. The ban has been continuing on these organizations since 1992 except for some months in 1995. The ban has given the police forces a legitimacy to unleash repression on the general people and to kill the supporters, activists, leaders and general people in a let loose manner. Now, the Central Government has decided to legally ban the CPI (ML) (Peoples War) at all India level. The decision was taken after the meeting of 5 Chief Ministers under the chairmanship of the Central Home Minister. The full text of the speech of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Mr. Chandrababu Naidu reads like a pronouncement made by military dictator (we enclose the text here).

The intentions of the Government are clear from his speech that his Government will follow unconstitutional and inhuman methods in dealing with the Naxalite Movement. He advises the rest of the states to follow covert operations by infiltrating into the movement. Such an open public statement by the Chief Minister of a state in the presence of the Central Home Minister makes it clear that they want to take up illegal means to suppress the Naxalite Movement. We have apprehensions that if this is done, the situation of Andhra Pradesh will repeat in larger parts of the country resulting in a large scale violence by the state machinery. The instances of violation of human rights in Andhra Pradesh during the last 8 years of ban period makes it evident that a legal ban on some organizations leads to escalation of violation of human rights in a big way.

We appeal to you to intervene and use your good offices to stop the impending order of ban by the Central Government on CPI (ML) (Peoples War) in order to prevent a crisis in the civil society in our country.

The Central Government is also planning to enact a new TADA like law called Criminal Amendment Act. If this comes through we feel that the country will plunge into a situation wherein we will not be able to function even as a nominal democratic system.

We appeal to you to investigate into the following cases of fake encounter killings in Andhra Pradesh, the cases that are being protested by all sections of people in a big way:

1) Veeranna, the Secretary of Communist Party of United States of India (ML) Dalit Bahujan Shramashakthi was followed and picked up in the broad daylight from Secunderabad and was announced as being killed a forest area of Karimnagar district along with 10 others.

2) Rangavelli, a senior leader of CPI (M-L) Janashakthi was killed along with 4 others on 11-11-1999 in Mulugu area of Warangal, though there were all chances for the police to arrest them.

3) On the night of December 1st 1999 three members of the Central Committee of the CPI (ML) Peoples War-Nalla Adi Reddy (Shyam, 44), Arramreddy Santosh Reddy (Mahesh, 40) and Seelam Naresh (Murali, 39) were killed in cold blood by the Andhra Pradesh special police shortly after they were arrested from Bangalore in a covert operation. H. J. Dora, the DGP of Andhra Pradesh announced on the next day that they were among the four persons killed in a fierce gun battle between the guerillas of the CPI (ML)(PW) and the police in the Koyyur forest area of Karimnagar district. Circumstantial evidence show that the three leaders were caught when they were in an unconscious state on the basis of information given by one Govinda Reddy, who was looking after their shelter at Sarakkigate in Banashankari area in Bangalore at around 12.30 PM. on the previous day. The fourth person called Laxmi Rajam was an agricultural labourer in a village called Garjanapalli in Karimnagar district. Laxmi Rajam was forcefully kidnapped from the field where he was sleeping at midnight on 1st December and shot dead within a short time in order to create an impression that an encounter had taken place locally. The dead body of Laxmi Rajam, the innocent poor youth (professionally shepherd), was placed alongside the bodies of the three leaders of CPI (ML) Peoples War. Like in the case of all fake encounters; there is strong evidence to prove that these are political murders/ assassinations carried out by the state with the planning of the higher-level police officers of Andhra Pradesh. The house from where these three leaders were taken away in Maruti vans by heavily armed plain clothes policemen stands as evidence. The family, which rented out the house to Govinda Reddy and the neighbours who were present at the time of kidnapping, also stand as witnesses. Govinda Reddy and his wife who collaborated with the AP police in this covert operation also can provide strong evidence. This Govinda Reddy has been missing since that day and he is not produced even after the court has ordered the Karnataka police to produce him before the court. Laxmi Rajam's parents and the farmer with whom he was working also stand as witnesses.

4) On 11th January 2000 two members (Bodiga Ravindar and Lambadi Ramulu) of the CPI were killed in the name of an encounter in Bithigal village in Karimnagar district. Both the CPI and the CPM protested strongly against this incident. But 'encounter' killings are continuing nevertheless. Public opinion in Andhra Pradesh is clearly against the police, with intellectuals, well-known democrats and even some leading newspapers editorially demanding a judicial inquiry and an end to fake encounter killings.

5) On February 1st 2000, three activists of CPI (ML) New Democracy were picked up from Musmi village of Kothagua Mandal in Warangal district and killed them in the name of an encounter. The three unarmed persons were Kumar, Sujata and Venkanna.

6) Viswa Mohan Reddy, a leader of CPI (ML) Janashakthi (Unity Initiative), and Mariamma, a POW leader of Guntur district on 11th April 2000. Viswa Mohan Reddy's wife has sent a telegram to the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court immediately after his arrest. But she learnt after a day that he was killed in an encounter. Viswa Mohan Reddy was not only a leader of Rythu Cooli Sangham but also a popular writer. One of his novels was the source of inspiration to a famous film that depicted the movement on democratic rights in Andhra Pradesh. The fact that in the last four months SP Purnachandra Rao of Guntur district is after the life of Viswa Mohan Reddy is evident from his stat
ements in the press, a few days prior to the incident, when three innocent cadres of Janashakthi were killed in one such fake encounter in the 3rd week of March in Guntur. Purnachandra Rao, SP of Guntur district arrested civil liberties and democratic rights leaders, soon after the killings to prevent them to establish the facts of the incident. 6) Kathula Sammaiah, an ex-Naxalite killed three of his fellow comrades, in Husnabad, Karimnagar district and surrendered to the police and confessed his involvement in DIG Vyas's killing three years ago. He arranged a press conference on 19th April 2000 and declared that he would form an armed organization to wipe out Peoples War, if need be, with the help of the police. This is an alarming. development. All Telugu Dailies from Hyderabad published his photograph along with lethal weapons. Eenadu, a leading Telugu daily wrote about the presence of police personnel in plainclothes in the press conference. "Vartha", another Telugu daily reported that there are two licensed revolvers and one gun on his table as he was addressing the press conference in his house at Vivekananda Nagar, Kukatpalli in Hyderabad. The Mufti-police also were seen around till the press conference was over. Andhra politics, an electronic newspaper reported that Kathula Sammaiah while saying that he was not part of the assailants who fired at Gaddar on 6th April 97, but added that Gaddar would not have survived if he had been there. It is well and good if he was not there in the attempt to kill Gaddar. But what this he further adds that Gaddar would not have survived if he were there. There is no harm that Gaddar has done to him.

These provocations are not isolated emotional utterances but intriguing conspiratorial plans of the state, through its police forces. The Commission earlier clearly instructed the Government of Andhra Pradesh that all police personnel involved in any 'encounter' killing should be booked under Sec 302 (i.e. for murder), and the case should be thoroughly investigated. The Commission issued instructions that it is the police who have to prove that they had to open fire in self-defense in a court of law. In case, they cannot prove convincingly that the use of weapons against the deceased was only in self-defense, then the police personnel should be punished accordingly. The Andhra Pradesh High Court also gave these instructions in the case of a fake encounter killing of Madhusudanraj, Secretary of the CPI (ML) (Chandrapulla Reddy). But in no incident of and encounter' so far was any case booked against the police personnel involved in the killing. In the last two years (1998-1999) alone, more than 500 leaders, sympathizers and common people were killed in the name of encounters. In more than 95% of these cases, the police have been killing them after they arrest or detain the people in their custody or killing them asleep and unarmed. These 'encounters' are not chance happenings. They are carried out as a part of government policy. Encounter killings are the political policy of the Telugu Desam Government under the Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. During a certain period, if the Government does not want these killings, there will be no 'encounters'. For example, in the months of September and October last year encounter killings were at a minimum in view of the ongoing elections.

G. N. SAIBABA, General Secretary, All India Peoples Resistance Forum (AIPRF) Sd. VARAVARA RAO, Executive Member, Revolutionary Writers Association (VIRASAM) Sd. GADAR, General Secretary, All India League For Revolutionary Culture, (AILRC)