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Azad killed in fake encounter: rights activists

Special Correspondent


PME, FIR present contrasting picture

Probe sought by Supreme Court judge


HYDERABAD: A group of rights activists led by well-known Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan on Sunday said that it had conclusive evidence to show CPI (Maoist) spokesman Azad and a journalist in the latter's company Hemachandra Pandey were killed in a fake encounter in the forest of Asifabad in Adilabad district last month.

Releasing a report here after visiting the encounter site in the last two days, Mr. Bhushan told media persons that the killing of Azad was a sequel to peace talks initiated by the Union Home Ministry with Maoists with the mediation of Swami Agnivesh. The encounter took place around the time Azad was responding to the Swami. Therefore, it could be said that the ‘encounter' took place at the instance of the Union Home Ministry.

Mr. Bhushan was accompanied in the fact finding mission by Amit Bahaduri and Gautam Navlakha of New Delhi, Kavita Srivastava of Rajasthan and some others here.

‘Conclusive' evidence

Elaborating on ‘conclusive' evidence that they gathered at the site, Mr. Bhushan said it was important for the purpose to correlate the report of the post-mortem examination (PME) of the bodies and the First Information Report released by police. The PME report said the fatal bullet entered Azad's body from upper chest and exited from lower vertebral column. But, the FIR said the police fired upwards, towards a hill where the Maoists were spotted. In that case, the bullet should have pierced Azad's body from lower vertebrae.

Moreover, he also said the PME report pointing to the burn mark at the entry wound showed that the bullet was fired from a close range. It was a darkening burnt edge. The police also messed up by leaking information to the media that the slain persons were Azad and Pandey but writing in the FIR later that the bodies were unidentified.

The group claimed that the encounter was aimed at scuttling the peace process. It demanded an inquiry into the incident by a Supreme Court judge chosen by the Chief Justice of India.

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