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How Naxals helped Telangana and Andhra police master ‘encounters’

United Andhra Pradesh, which was bifurcated in 2014, was a hotbed of Maoist extremism until the last decade.

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Hyderabad: United Andhra Pradesh was a hotbed of Maoist extremism until the last decade, but the threat has now waned. However, the local police’s experience in handling anti-Maoist operations, which often resulted in encounter deaths, seems to be serving as a blueprint for tackling other kinds of criminals in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Analysts cited the Telangana encounter Friday, when the four men accused of raping and killing a Hyderabad veterinarian were killed during an alleged escape bid, as an example.

Another example quoted was the 2008 Warangal encounter, when three men who allegedly attacked two college students with acid were shot dead, again after “attacking police in an attempt to escape”.

A retired IPS officer who has served as director general of police (DGP) and handled anti-Maoist operations in Telangana drew a comparison between the encounters now and then.

We were able to eliminate the Naxals… because of the simultaneous developmental activities taking place in the interiors since the mid-2000s,” the former DGP said.

As public sympathy gradually faded for the Naxals, our assault operations faced less public fury (like these new encounters where public was furious with those shot dead),” the retired officer added.

According to the former officer, the encounter Friday might appear “legally wrong, but many think it’s morally right”.

I cannot comment on whose order — the chief minister, the DGP or the Cyberabad commissioner — the ‘encounter’ was carried out. But yes, police and the government were under tremendous pressure from the public and parliamentarians alike to ‘do something’,” the former DGP added.

Venkatesh Vadtiya, who teaches social exclusion at English and Foreign Languages University, a central university in Hyderabad, said “Maoist encounters used to be carried out in the same fashion by state police earlier.

Today’s encounter is not an encounter but extrajudicial killing. The guilt of the accused was not proved, trial not yet begun. Even if they were the culprits, the process of law should have been honoured.”

Also read: Rose petals, praise for police & CM as Hyderabad cheers police ‘encounter’ in vet rape-murder

String of encounters

There was deep public outrage across India as the burnt remains of a Hyderabad-based veterinarian were discovered on the city’s outskirts last week.

She had allegedly been raped and burnt after she found herself stranded at the Outer Ring Road toll plaza with a puncture. It is suspected that the alleged killers deliberately deflated one of her two-wheeler’s tyres when she left it parked at the plaza earlier.

The suspects were caught within two days. On Friday, they were allegedly taken to the scene of the crime to reconstruct the sequence of events, a common investigative practice. 

However, according to police, one of the accused allegedly snatched a police weapon and attacked the officers, forcing them to fire back in self-defence. The four suspects, police said, were killed in the ensuing exchange.

The encounter was eerily similar to the 2008 Warangal episode, and, on both occasions, the police teams involved were widely lauded by local residents horrified by the crimes.

Encounters have been routine affairs in Telangana since its formation in 2014, with differing targets (suspected gangsters and terrorists) but a common explanation — police opened fire in self-defence.

In April 2015, state police shot dead Viqaruddin Ahmed, the suspected founder of terrorist group Tehreek Ghalba-e-Islam and four other undertrials.

Ahmed allegedly had links with the proscribed outfit SIMI. He and his associates had been arrested in 2010 in connection with the killing of police personnel in Hyderabad. The “encounter” took place near Alair, when the five were being brought to Hyderabad from a Warangal prison.

The police explanation was that Ahmed and the others tried to snatch weapons from their police escort when the van made a toilet stop for one of them.

In August 2016, Naxalite-turned-gangster Md Nayeemuddin was shot dead. Nayeemuddin allegedly ran an extortion ring in Telangana, and was a suspect in several killings, including that of an IPS officer. He was also reportedly wanted in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh “fake encounter” case in Gujarat. He was killed in Shadnagar by Telangana’s famed anti-Maoist commando unit — the Greyhounds.

The police explanation was that the driver of the car in which Nayeemuddin was travelling opened fire on police.

In Andhra Pradesh, 20 suspected red sandalwood smugglers were killed in the Seshachalam forests near Tirupati in April 2015, by a special task force formed to curb illegal cutting of red sandalwood trees.

The Viqaruddin and sandalwood encounters took place on the same day — 7 April 2015 — in the two Telugu states.

In all the above-mentioned cases, public sentiment appeared to be largely in favour of the killings.

Also read: Hyderabad ‘encounter’ of rape-murder accused chilling reminder of 2008 Warangal killings


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  1. On one hand the police and politicians face pressure to deal with justice. The judiciary on the other hand feels no such pressure and every case takes decades to resolve. In many cases, the criminals are able to live a free life on bail while the cases drag on for years. The case of Uphaar cinema fire is one such example, among thousands, where the Supreme Court went out of its way to let the convicted walk free. When those tasked with administering justice fail, we get these lynchings and extra-judicial killings.

    • Judiciary and justice are like journalist and facts…libturds trying to promote the money making racket of lawyers, judges claiming some nonsense about law is ironic. The law in India is a business run by crooks and unaccountable charlatans.

      Justice lives in every right thinking person’s heart not in the court room and chambers of clowns wearing gowns – the public knows justice like a baby knows its mother’s voice, they dont need to get lessons on the nature of justice.

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