A “survivor” of the Chittoor encounter in Andhra Pradesh has claimed that seven out of the 20 slain loggers were pulled out of a bus a day before they were shot dead, a rights group said on Wednesday.
The claim, if proved true, would deal a big blow to Andhra Pradesh police who have dismissed allegations of staging the encounter and struck to its version that security personnel were forced to open fire when a 100-strong group of red sanders smugglers attacked them.
The killings have soured the state’s relations with neighbouring Tamil Nadu which have described the incident as a “massacre of poor woodcutters”
An underfire Andhra chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who had deployed a special task force to crack down on red sandalwood smugglers last year, on Wednesday order a magisterial probe into the incident.
Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee member Kranthi Chaitanya, in the forefront of a demand for a judicial enquiry into the encounter, said the organisation has “managed to establish contact with the survivor through relatives of the deceased who have come here (Chittoor) from Tamil Nadu.
“He is being kept at a safe place. We will produce him before the National Human Rights Commission,” he added.
The NHRC has already taken suo moto cognizance of the incident and asked for reports from the Andhra Pradesh chief secretary and police chief.