The Communist Party of India-Maoist on Saturday claimed that the man killed along with top Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad in an alleged gun battle with police in Andhra Pradesh was a freelance journalist but police said he was a Maoist.
According to the outlawed outfit, Hem Chandra Pandey, a native of Dewaltal village in Uttarakhand, was killed along with Azad.
Pandey, 32, was a freelance journalist based in Delhi and was working for Hindi dailies Nai Duniya and Rashtriya Sahara, they said.
The CPI-Maoist had initially suspected the man to be its cadre, Sahadev. However, Gudsa Usendi, spokesman of the Dandakaranya special zone committee of the CPI-Maoist, claimed that the other slain person was a journalist.
He alleged that the police picked them up in Maharashtra, brought them to Andhra Pradesh and killed them in cold blood.
Azad and his accomplice were killed in an alleged exchange of fire with police in Jogapur forests in Adilabad district, about 300 km from here. Police had stated that the other Maoist killed in the shoot-out was not identified.
Maoist sympathiser Varavara Rao said Pandey was doing a story on the police atrocities on tribals in the name of Operation Green Hunt.
Adilabad police said Pandey was a Maoist.
Police have also denied allegations by Maoists and their sympathisers that it was a stage-managed gun battle.
The autopsy on the bodies of Azad and other man was conducted at the Government Hospital in Manchiryal town of Adilabad district.
Azad's body was brought to Hyderabad amid tight security. The last rites will be performed here on Sunday. The other body has been kept at Manchiryal hospital.