CHITTOOR CONTINUES TO MAKE HEADLINES, AND RIGHTLY!

Chittoor continues to make headlines, and rightly. The dead-bodies are asking for their due if we believe in such things.

Once trophies for police, now the bodies are part of the investigation and as the time is getting up, officials in the operation are feeling the heat.

A report said victim families have requested for ‘no last rites’ for bodies until the investigation is complete.

As more and more truth is coming out, a report today said 12 out of 20 killed are from Tamil Nadu and its chief minister has already written to his counterpart in Andhra Pradesh for a ‘credible probe’.

So, all from Tamil Nadu to 12 from Tamil Nadu would change anything?

No, because the facts increasingly say that it was a stage-managed encounter. People, preferably labourers or small time workers, were killed in cold blood – people with backgrounds and families that they thought could not raise voices.

But the bodies with logs are crying foul of the crime scenes.

Reports said bodies were decomposed. Reports said logs were with white paint having code-word inscribed on them suggesting involvement of some government stockpile. Also the logs were not fresh.

Police have not been able to explain facial shots and burn marks on some of the bodies, apart from routine defence. Then Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) today paraded a ‘survivor’ of the ‘alleged stage-managed’ encounter. He has been kept somewhere to will be produced before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as the APCLC said.

Police or RSASTF, with local police and forest officials, killed 20 in self-defence and none of the policemen or officials involved were injured. An encounter with hundreds of red-sandalwood smugglers, at multiple locations, 10 Kms away from human dwellings, deep in Seshachalam forests (with a range notorious for red sandalwood smuggling), would certainly involve, if not casualties, then at least injuries to the police and party involved, even if we accept the RSASTF DIG’s remark that ‘his force was superiorly trained’.

But, not just the police, even the forest officials and the local police escaped unharmed, without the bruise, though they had a full-throttle brush with the law and order situation that was expected to leave multiple casualties and injuries.

Though Andhra Pradesh chief minister who is ally of the BJP led National Democratic Alliance and has briefed the Union Home Minister about the whole incident, stoically defends the encounter as genuine while the whole Tamil Nadu is erupting in protests. A TN led seizure of Chittoor is proposed for tomorrow.

And even the Andhra Pradesh is not silent. Rights groups and opposition politicians are making the voices that are being heard.

Chittoor encounter is rightly making for the headlines and is expected to rock the nation more in the coming days with more facts emerging, with more reports saying the encounter stage-managed.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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CHITTOOR ENCOUNTER: THE QUESTIONS THAT COME TO MIND

THE QUESTIONS

1. What do we call it – Seshachalam encounter or Chittoor Encounter or Tirupati Encounter?

2. So far, the names doing the rounds are Chittoor Encounter and Tirupati Encounter. The ‘alleged’ encounter took place in Seshachalam forests in Chittoor district. Incidentally, the forests surround the Tirupati city that falls in Chittoor district. So, where should the semiotics go? Or, the name doesn’t matter given the scale of the calamity?

3. Should it be termed an encounter or a massacre? Is it a genocide, a stage-managed encounter or a police cleansing operation aimed at the cleaning the society?

4. Did the police do its job? Cannot it separate a woodcutter from a red-sandalwood smuggler? Incidentally, all of those dead are woodcutters, with relatives crying hoarse over their death.

5. The Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) of Andhra Pradesh Police, the elite unit – how can it be do dumb and anti-human in killing so many people while none of its members are even seriously injured?

6. How can RSASTF explain decomposed bodies and red-sandalwood logs with white paints and code found at the encounter site?

7. Going by the precedent of Indian policing, there are chances that it is yet another stage-managed encounter, but with an abnormally high death toll. Can we buy the statement of a major person attached with the ground level-ops that they were so well prepared that the smugglers couldn’t harm them?

8. Irrespective of which side is the truth in this case, the police botched it up and botched it up bad. There are 20 dead and they are called smugglers by a police unit with no one injured. Going by the past, security personnel have been killed regularly by red-sanders? Who will buy the police statement then?

9. It was in a dense forest, some 10 Kms from human habitation that the encounters took place. In such circumstances and going by the past history, it is quite bizarre to note it down that police party escaped unharmed and smugglers also chose to attack a fully equipped a police unit with archaic weapons – stones, sickles, axes in this case. Smugglers chose to take on a fully equipped party with archaic weapons only, and that too in a forest, and all policemen escaped unharmed. The whole sequence of events is bizarre, isn’t it?

10. As expected, it has created tension between two states – all the slain are from Tamil Nadu – and the cops are from an elite unit of Andhra Pradesh Police. Aren’t we staring at yet another issue of tussle between two states that will take a long time to resolve?

11. Rights groups from both states as well as the national and international bodies have taken note of the incident. NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) has taken suo moto cognizance. Hearing a petition to launch CBI inquiry into the case, the High Court today asked the Andhra Pradesh government to file a written submission in the case within two days. Amnesty International has written on it. A storm is brewing that is to snowball in coming days. Isn’t is going to cost dear to the RSASTF and therefore the state government?

12. No one from the state government so far has taken the ‘responsibility’ or ‘laurels’ except the officials directly involved in it. A magisterial probe has been ordered. Chandrababu Naidu is tight-lipped. Ministry of Home Affair at Centre has been briefed by him. Tamil Nadu CM O. Panneerselvam is demanding a ‘credible’ probe. Opposition parties and Andhra Pradesh and political parties in Tamil Nadu have created a big issue over the ‘alleged’ encounter and it is going to get heightened as more and more truth comes out. Is the episode a setback for Chandrababu Naidu? Is he dealing with the another ‘Hashimpura’ with South India’s biggest encounter of the history?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SESHACHALAM ENCOUNTER: NOW THAT IS EXPECTED TO BE ONE OF LEAD STORIES OF COMING DAYS

Going by the precedent, this one is expected to be the cover-story stuff for many magazines, front-page and follow-up stuff for newspapers and for hot debates on news channels.

The Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) of Andhra Pradesh Police today claimed to kill 20 red sandalwood smugglers during its encounters with a team of woodcutters.

Reportedly, a team of sandalwood smugglers had sneaked from the Tamil Nadu districts, Tiruvannamalai and Salem, to the Seshachalam forests of Andhra Pradesh in Chittoor district surrounding the Tirupati City and the police team acted on the tip-off.

In the encounters that lasted for hours and took place deep in the forest, reportedly 10 Kms from human habitation, left 20 smugglers dead but only few of the police party got injured and they, too, were out of danger. Some reports also said that none of the ‘officials and policemen were injured in the incident’.

The police party was fully equipped and was with sophisticated weapons while the so-called smugglers were with stones, rods, sickles, and axes.

Now, the whole stuff is a copybook police encounter where police pick up some (but not many, ideally one or two) notorious gangsters and show them killed in an encounter when the reality is that the police group shoots them in cold blood. The whole encounter is stage-managed.

In case of disturbed areas with elements like terrorism, naxalism and other forms of internal insurgency, the notorious gangsters are sometimes replaced with harmless poor people whose relatives cannot prove anything on their own.

In case of Chittoor encounter, in its Seshachalam forests, the toll is 20, a significantly higher number by standards of even the Indian Army in such cases. Also, the victim bodies lying here and there were not of notorious gangsters as the initial reports suggested. Instead, they were of ordinary, poor men as the photographs of encounter suggested.

Also, Chittoor is a drought affected district facing a prolonged drought. Governments come and go but the problems remain the same.

It is not just India media, but the global media will pick this story and some which are adept in follow-ups and some which are having some socialist or anti-capitalist leanings will make war-cry about it.

The story, by its death toll and its location is expected to make big headlines and news content tomorrow onwards. Already, a magisterial enquiry by the government has been ordered into it.

The interstate tension between Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu will see an element to spark the fires. Tamil Nadu chief minister O. Panneerelvam has written to his Andhra Pradesh counterpart for a ‘credible probe’ into the issue as all the slain are from Tamil Nadu.

Whether to term it a genuine encounter or stage-managed massacre is going to be question doing the rounds.

‘The decomposed bodies and logs there with white paint and code-words’ is a big story for national and international media, the political groups in Tamil Nadu, the opposition political groups in Andhra Pradesh, the political groups elsewhere and national and international rights groups.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/