Chittoor case: Govt rejects Oppn demand on CBI probe
Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday rejected an Opposition demand in the Rajya Sabha for a CBI or judicial probe into the alleged killing of 20 wood-cutters in a forest by Andhra Pradesh police, saying there was no such demand from the state government.
He said the killing of the wood-cutters cannot be termed as ‘fake encounters’ till the final judgement on the matter, adding that the human rights bodies have taken cognisance of the matter with regard to paying compensation to the next of kin of the victims.
The Minister made the statement after CPI leader D Raja raised the issue when the Upper House re-assembled after the lunch break. Asserting that the Home Minister has given the version of the AP government, members especially Raja, T K Rangarajan (CPI-M) and EMS Natchiappan (Cong) demanded a CBI probe, while D Bandyopadhyay (TMC) sought a judicial enquiry by a Supreme Court or High Court judge.
Singh said, “I want to make clear that the police and public order is a state subject. The statement we gave was as per information received by the Andhra Pradesh government, we have not made any addition or substraction.”
“But some members have demanded a CBI enquiry. I would like to inform that this can be done when there is a request from the state government. We have not got any request. Therefore, this cannot be considered,” he said. On some members’ demand for setting up of a judicial panel to probe the incident, Singh said: “If court gives permission, we will certainly do it.”
On the issue of compensation to victims, he said, “National and State Human Rights Commission have taken cognisance of the matter. After the judicial outcome, the AP government will follow the order.”
The incident had occured early on April 7 and the case was filed the same day, he said, adding that the killings cannot be called “fake encounter” till he gets judgement.
Singh said the AP government has decided to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code to investigate the case. “The relatives of the persons who were killed in the police firing have filed writ petitions in the Hon’ble High Court of Judicature for the state of AP and Telangana at Hyderabad. The HC has ordered a re-postmorten of certain dead bodies and the same has been carried out by the state government,” he said.
Stating that the investigation is still on, Singh said, “in the interest of fair and independent investigation, the HC has further directed that no officer (be it police department or otherwise) of any level will divulge the result of investigation to anyone else except before the appropriate court or appropriate official under law confidentiality.”
Scheduled tribes body calls for CBI investigation
The National Scheduled Tribes Commission (NSTC) has called for a CBI probe into the gunning down of 20 people in Andhra Pradesh and also slammed the Special Task Force (STF), which carried out the operation earlier this month as it alleged that they had failed to follow a proper protocol.
In its report, the team headed by National Commission for Scheduled Tribes Vice Chairperson Ravi Thakur – which visited the site of the incident – observed that the crime committed by those who were killed by Andhra Pradesh police was that of theft of timber.