Police Arrested 7 of the 20 Slain “Smugglers” Before Encounter, Alleges Relative

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20 sandalwood smugglers were killed in Chittor district forests
20 sandalwood smugglers were killed in Chittor district forests

Condemning the killing of alleged 20 sanders smugglers, protesters reportedly attacked seven Andhra Pradesh Transport Corporation buses in Chennai. Following the attack, security personnel have been alerted in many Chennai-based establishments of Andhra-origin owners, including restaurants, clubs and banks after the mobs tried to target them in separate incidents.

Many forms of protest have been erupted in Chittoor and Chennai district at the killing of 20 woodcutters, which include 12 from Vellore and Tiruvannamala of Tamil Nadu. Political parties including DMK, MDMK and the PMK condemned the encounter and said that the illegal woodcutters were actually daily wage workers employed by red sanders smugglers.

Urging a speedy probe into the case, Tamil Nadu CM Panneerselvam wrote to Andhra Pradesh counterpart Chandrababu Naidu. “Many of these persons are reportedly from Tiruvannamalai and Vellore districts of Tamil Nadu. While it is possible that these persons may have been engaged in illegal activities, the occurrence of such high casualties in the operation raises concerns whether the (AP) Task Force personnel acted with adequate restraint,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee member Kranhi Chaitanya claims that the organization has managed to establish contact with a survivor. “He is being kept at a safe place. We will produce him before the National Human Rights Commission,” he said.

According to the family members of few of the slain “smugglers”, the “survivor” was among of 8 wood-cutters hired by red sanders smugglers in Andhra Pradesh.

“They were traveling in a bus from Thiruvanamalai to Chitoor on Monday afternoon. The bus was stopped by police and seven of the eight men were arrested. He was sitting separately and managed to slip away quietly,” said Raja Babu , a relative of one of those killed in the encounter.

20 suspected red sanders smugglers were shot death by Andhra Pradesh in the Seshachalam forest on Tuesday following which the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also took suo moto cognizance of the incident and issued notices to the Andhra Pradesh chief secretary. “About 20 smugglers were killed in the incident which can be termed as a major breakthrough,” Andhra Pradesh home minister Nimmakayala Chinarajappa had said.

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