"In our republic we cannot allow the state to behave in such lawless manner and allow our children to be killed," a Supreme Court bench said on Friday while hearing petitions for a judicial probe into the killing of Maoist leader Cherkuri Rajkumar in Andhra Pradesh last year.
Azad and journalist Hemchandra Pandey were shot dead by the Andhra Pradesh police in Adilabad. The police claimed it was an armed encounter. The apex court has now issued notices to the central and Andhra governments, asking them to explain the killings. "We hope there will be an answer. The government has to answer so many questions," said a visibly upset bench after going through the petitions. The two governments have been given six weeks for a reply.The police claimed Azad was spearheading the campaign to revive the Maoist movement in Andhra Pradesh. Social activist Swami Agnivesh and Pandey’s 30-year-old widow, Babita, moved the apex court demanding a probe into the killings six months ago.
"Whatever story is coming out from the state seems like fake. There are conflicting reports of the encounter," Swami Agnivesh said. The petition alleged that the post-mortem reports of both the persons and a fact-finding exercise carried out by rights groups clearly indicate that the encounter was not genuine.