New Delhi, April 14: The Red Sanders encounter case in Andhra Pradesh is growing murkier by the day as new witnesses and evidences are piling up against the forest officials and the police. A new witness has come up describing how the victims were simple villagers and daily wage workers who were picked randomly and shot dead in the forest.
On Monday, Illangovan, a worker explained in his statement to the human rights group People's Watch that he and his friends were picked up from outside the Malakanavayoor village on April 6. "Within a few seconds, the auto was surrounded by around eight policemen who were all carrying pistols and asked us where we were from," Illangovan said.
When they said that they were out to find work, the policemen dragged them out of the auto and dumped them in a large open lorry carrying 30 people. Around 10 of them were carrying guns and seemed to be policemen. He claimed that after travelling for sometime, the lorry stopped at the ranger's office in Kezthirupathy and th epolicemen started taking their pictures.
Illangovan took this to his advantage and jumped from the lorry and ran into the forest. "It was around 4am on April 7 by the time he managed to flee and he was not just petrified but also weak and exhausted as he had not eaten. He cautiously made his way away from the site where the lorry had stopped and towards the main road. By around 8 am, he managed to find two persons on a bike on the main road and requested them for a lift. He managed to make his way to his village and shared the ordeal with his parents," said the statement released by People's Watch.
Illangovan claimed that same night his friend's (who was accompanying him) body reached the village that night.
Earlier two other witnesses Sekar and Balachandran recorded similar statements before the NHRC in Delhi on Monday. Sekar was travelling from his village Pudur Kollamedu along with Mahendran, Murthy and Munuswamy to Chennai. When they were in the bus, Mahendran was forced by a man to get down from the bus and the other two went missing too. He later learnt that Mahendran, Murthy and Munusamy had been killed in an encounter.
In a similar way, Balachandran had a narrow escape when he went for a drink at the local parlour, leaving his father and others behind. All of them were enroute to the contractor who had earlier provided them employment. When Balachandran came back, he saw all the men were missing. When he called one of his relatives, who was among them, a person on the other side said "your men are here".