Red sandalwood smuggling: "Andhra Police dragged 'smugglers' off bus", claims 'survivor'

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Chennai, Apr 9: A 'survivor' has made a shocking revelation which deflates police and Andhra Pradesh government's version that the encounter of 'alleged' 20 red sanders 'smugglers' in Chittoor district was done in self-defence.

This revelation cements the claims of rights activists and Tamil Nadu Government who are calling the encounter as 'fake'.

Fresh twist in 'smugglers' killing case

As per a TOI report, a labourer called Sekar from Murugapandi village in Tiruvannamalai, has alleged that he was the lone survivor among a group of eight men who were dragged off by the Andhra Police from a bus near the state border on Monday.

"When the bus neared Nagari in Chittoor district, policemen got into the bus and dragged away the seven labourers," a villager quoted Sekar as saying. Sekar said he slipped out of the bus at the next stop and returned to his village. He soon moved out his family and remains untraceable.

[Red sandalwood smuggling: It is now an AP vs TN battle]

"It was an incident where the police had to open fire in self-defence because they were terribly outnumbered," AP Government's Communication Advisor, Parakala Prabhakar, told media persons.

Earlier on Wednesday, Centre sought a report from the state government over the killings. A Home Ministry official told that Home Minister Rajnath Singh has asked for a detailed report on Chittor forest killings from the state government.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu briefed the Home Minister after the incident on Monday night.

"Andhra Pradesh chief minister briefed the Home Minister yesterday (Tuesday). The minister on Wednesday asked for a report from the state government over the incident."

On Tuesday, the killings provoked protests from various quarters and a call from neighbouring Tamil Nadu for an independent inquiry since most of the victims were from that state.

The government and political parties in Tamil Nadu reacted angrily as it emerged that 12 of those killed were from Tiruvannamalai and Vellore districts of the state and had gone to Andhra Pradesh forest to fell red sanders trees and take away the rare wood. They were mostly poor tribals.

[How coward red sandalwood smugglers lure the poor of Tamil Nadu]

A war of words has erupted between the Governments of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu over the killing. Taking this issue further are some senior advocates in Tamil Nadu who are filing a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe into the matter.

A senior police official from Tamil Nadu told Oneindia that the entire operation was fake and amounted to murder. We have been looking into the issue and find nothing bonafide about the operation, the officer also informed.

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