A man killed along with top Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajakumar alias Azad in an encounter in Andhra Pradesh on July 1 has been identified as a “Delhi-based freelance journalist” by a woman who claims to be his widow.
At a briefing held at the Press Club of India in Delhi, the woman, whose friends identified her as Babita, said the man killed by the Andhra Pradesh Police was her husband Hem Raj Pandey.
“My husband wrote for Nai Duniya, Rashtriya Sahara, and Dainik Jagran…he was honest, innocent… he was killed because he was a Leftist…,” Babita said. She last heard from her husband on June 30, she said.
Sources in the Andhra Pradesh Police, however, denied there was truth in her claims.
“We have checked with the Sahara group as well as Nai Duniya. He was not on their rolls. He was not even a freelancer for them,” a senior police official involved in anti-Maoist operations said. “He was underground for the past four years.”
Nai Duniya and Rashtriya Sahara managements also denied any links with Pandey.
“We were upset when we heard Azad had been killed... but never imagined my husband would have died too,” Babita said and added she lived in Uttarakhand but was unable to tell where Pandey used to stay.
Several news channels reported late on Saturday that the Northern Region Bureau of the CPI(Maoist) had claimed Pandey was in fact their zonal commander.