Noting that it was a case of human rights violations, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday recommended a CBI enquiry into the police encounter on April 7 in which 20 woodcutters from Tamil Nadu were killed at Seshachalam forests of Andhra Pradesh.
Further, the NHRC has instructed the Centre and the Andhra government to send an action taken report in four weeks after transferring the FIRs registered by the local police to the CBI for it to take over the investigation.
NHRC member Justice D. Murugesan said the panel has also recommended an interim relief of Rs. 5 lakh to each of the victim families in the incident.
There were good grounds to think that there was serious violation of human rights considering the background of victims, delay in registering an FIR and the “reluctance” of the AP government in sharing even the basic information with the panel, said the NHRC in a release to the media.
Interim relief to victims’ families
The HR panel directed Andhra Pradesh government to pay Rs 5 lakh each to the families of 20 victims as an interim relief as they cannot be allowed to starve and die waiting for the final outcome of the enquiry and file a compliance report in eight weeks.
The district magistrate at Chittoor would disburse financial assistance to dependents of 13 victims who belonged to Scheduled Tribe under the provisions of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Rules.
The commission directed the investigating officer to get the statements of witnesses before a competent magistrate in Tamil Nadu, while the state DGP would continue to provide adequate protection to witnesses — Sekhar, A. Balachandran and M. Illango and their families.
The chief secretary and the DGP of Andhra Pradesh are to appear in person before the NHRC on June 9 to give information and produce records as directed by the commission in its earlier proceedings on April 13 and 23.