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Sunday, August 29, 2010

azad encounter

azad encounter
Death By An Inch... Lies By The Mile
Will Azad become Congress's Sohrabuddin? His post-mortem suggests he was killed in cold blood.
Saikat Datta
http://outlookindia.com/article.aspx?266865

Dead men tell no tales. But when the deceased is Chemkuri Azad Rajkumar, the manner of death can speak volumes. The Maoist leader's post-mortem report, which Outlook has now accessed, categorically establishes that he died in a fake encounter. Read along with the FIR and inquest reports, it exposes the elaborate set of lies drawn by the Andhra Pradesh police to explain his death. The claimed encounter, a much-touted "gain" in the UPA government's war against India's "gravest internal security threat", was in fact a cold-blooded execution by the state. Azad, a key player in the planned negotiations with the government, was picked up and shot with a handgun from a distance barely more than the size of an outstretched palm. The official version, that the Maoists were atop a hill and fired at the police party and Azad died when the cops retaliated from down below, just doesn't add up.

The post-mortem on Azad's body, conducted by doctors at the Adilabad district hospital on July 3, two days after the killing, records a 1-cm oval-shaped wound just a few inches above the left nipple where the bullet entered, tore through his heart and exited from the back just between the ninth and the tenth vertebrae. The wound's entry point, the doctor conducting the post-mortem records, had "darkening (and) burned edge" at the "left second intercostal space (the space between two ribs)".

In forensic medicine, which also deals with decoding fatal bullet wounds, the words "darkening, blackening and burning" are revealing. Experts with hundreds of autopsies behind them all say that when there is "burning" associated with a "darkening or blackening" of an entry wound, it can only mean that the victim has been shot from a distance less than 7.5 cm or less—practically point-blank range.


'Near-Shot. Close-Range. Fired From Less Than 7.5 cm.'

Outlook invited three experts to analyse Azad's post-mortem report, without revealing his
identity. All three say Azad was shot from a distance equal to, or less than 7.5 cm

"If there is darkening, blackening and burning around a bullet entry wound, it is caused by the flame, smoke and gunpowder emerging from the firearm. The flame and the gunpowder, due to low mass, cannot travel very far. These residual marks, therefore, strongly suggest a near shot." —Dr Sudhir Gupta, Associate Professor of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology at AIIMS, New Delhi. Has conducted nearly 30 autopsies of police encounter deaths.

"While the report mentions burning, there is no tattooing. But if the deceased was wearing a shirt, then the tattooing could be on the shirt and only the burning is visible. The presence of burning in an entry wound accompanied by tattooing clearly indicates a shot fired from less than 7.5 cm." —Dr B. Umadethan, Former head of the department of forensic medicine, and police surgeon, Thiruvananthapuram Medical College. Author, Principles and Practice of Forensic Medicine.

The oval-shaped wound shows that the bullet was fired at an angle. It is almost certain that the bullet was fired at extremely close range. The weapon used was a handgun and not a rifle like AK-47. My guess is that the bullet that killed this person was fired from a .38" (9 mm) pistol." — Retired Director of the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory, Chandigarh, an expert on wound ballistics and the author of several books on ballistics who requested anonymity.
 


To get a better interpretation and assessment of the observations in the post-mortem report, Outlook gave a copy of it to three of the country's top forensic medicine and wound ballistic experts in three different cities. To ensure an unbiased and objective assessment, only the contents of the report were made available to them, the victim's name was not revealed. All three agreed that the probability of a close-range shot, perhaps even less than 7.5 cm, was very, very high.

Dr Sudhir Gupta, a gold medallist in medicine and currently an associate professor of forensic medicine and toxicology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, is considered an authority in his field. He is also an expert on encounter deaths, having handled 30 such cases. After going through the Azad post-mortem, Gupta summarised that a very "near shot" had killed the victim.


Silent knight: Gadar singing at Azad's funeral at Punjagutta (Photograph by P. Anil Kumar)

 

 

"No way can firing from below go down a person's chest and exit like that," says Azad's doctor brother.
 

 
He explains: "When there is darkening, blackening and burning around a firearm bullet entry wound, then it is caused by the flame and smoke of gunpowder emerging from the gun. These residual marks strongly suggest a near (close-range) shot. The burning is caused by a flame that has no mass. So, it travels a very short distance from the gun and therefore can only cause a burn if the shot is fired from close range. The gunpowder residue which hits the body at near range penetrates the skin and causes the darkening. Please note that the flame and the gunpowder, due to low mass, cannot travel very large distances." However, exercising the customary caution of a professional, Gupta advocates "test-firing of the gun with the type of ammunition that was used in the original shooting for an accurate assessment of the range of fire".

The second expert Outlook approached is a name students of forensic medicine are all too familiar with. Dr B. Umadethan is the former head of the department of forensic medicine and a police surgeon at the Medical College of Thiruvananthapuram. His book, Principles and Practice of Forensic Medicine, is a standard text for forensic students. A cautious man, Umadethan makes it very clear that it is difficult and even dangerous to form an opinion from the available data. But he finds the "darkening and burned edges" intriguing. "Usually, a very close-range shot, less than 7.5 cm, leaves behind three telltale marks: the entry wound is burnt; it has a halo tattoo from the unburned gunpowder and blackening created by the smoke. If the deceased is wearing a cotton shirt, then the gunpowder tattoo can be left behind on the cloth. But a burn along with these other indications definitely indicates a very close-range shot."

 

 

"If they kill the very man sent to talk with the Maoist leadership, who do we talk with?" asks Swami Agnivesh.
 

 
A third expert who comes with formidable qualifications requested anonymity. A former director of the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Chandigarh, he is an expert on wound ballistics and has authored several books on the subject. "The darkening of the wound's edge could be due to dirt and deposit of power residues and contusion, but when accompanied by burnt edges, it's almost certain that the bullet was fired at extremely close range and the weapon used was a handgun, not a rifle like the AK-47. It causes a wound of almost similar dimension but inflicts much more damage to the tissue. My guess is that the bullet was fired from a .38" (9 mm) pistol," he says.

If the post-mortem report exposes the police claims, then the FIR, lodged on a complaint filed by Circle Inspector Raghunandan Rao on July 2, is an even greater exercise in self-contradiction. It states that the police received a tip-off from the state intelligence police about a 20-25-strong Maoist squad infiltrating into the Wankedi forests from the Maharashtra side. Rao's team, equipped with night vision devices, found the squad in the midst of hundreds of acres of forests in the dead of the night on July 1. The police claim they challenged the squad, but came under intense fire. The cops too retaliated; the exchange of fire lasted 30 minutes. When the firing stopped, Rao led his team towards the hilltop to halt and rest for the night. Early next day, he resumed his search and stumbled upon two unidentified bodies, each with their individual kit bags, an AK-47 and a 9-mm pistol. One body was Azad's; the other victim was a freelance journalist, Hemchandra Pandey.

Not only do the first series of contradictions emerge here (see Holes in the Dark), the FIR and inquest report are unable to answer two more key questions:

  • Even if they abandoned Azad's body, why didn't the Maoists carry the AK-47 and the 9-mm pistol back with them after the firing had stopped? To the Maoists, an AK-47 and a 9-mm pistol are precious and never left behind.
  • If the police were firing at long range, how did Azad die from a short-range 9-mm pistol bullet?

Swami Agnivesh, who had been asked by Union home minister P. Chidambaram to initiate talks with the Maoists in search for peace, is a perplexed man. "If they kill the very man who was carrying my message to the Maoist leadership in Dandakaranya to begin talks and offer a substantive gesture to show their sincerity, then who do we talk with? Are we keen to end this conflict or are we getting ready for a perpetual war in the heartland of India? When such disturbing facts emerge from the death of such a man, doesn't it merit a decent inquiry?" For a nation at war with itself, the truth is the least it owes itself.

Else, Azad will become the Congress's Sohrabuddin. Like their counterparts in Gujarat (who did not budge till the Supreme Court stepped in), the Centre and the state are in denial about Azad and attempting to bury uncomfortable facts. Like in the Sohrabuddin encounter, there is trickery involved in Azad's death too. The Maoist ideologue, from all credible accounts, had been drawn out for peace talks. Only, instead of allowing him to speak, the government silenced him forever.

azad encounter
Even a cursory examination of the FIR, post-mortem and inquest reports of Azad's death throw up disturbing questions
Outlook

azad encounter
Azad's kin allege it was no ordinary encounter
Madhavi Tata

law
Jurists say 'encounters' must be investigated by an independent agency. But no law makes this binding.
Anuradha Raman


COLLAPSE COMMENTS :
HAVE YOUR SAY

Aug 28, 2010 02:05 PM
1
The police continues to use torture as the primary weapon. Investigation and intelligence are both unheard off. Planting evidence, third degree torture and encounter killings are covertly supported by the Indian MEDIA and JUDICIARY.

The average policeman has not studied psychology or sociology or law.
He is the average 10th standard drop out, with a personality disorder, who the politicians and anti-male groups can misuse.

Given money, the average policeman will do anything. Given the ANTI-MALE LAWS in India today., policeman make MOST ( one third ) of their money through 'mamool' from harassed husbands.

The feminist industry ensure that they have the police/politicians/anti-male laws on their side, while they carry on their money making games.

With only MALES enduring the suffering perpetrated by the police force, there is no one to complain!


WAKE UP, MALES! SPEAK UP!
Male unblocked
Chennai, India
Aug 28, 2010 04:44 PM
2
"Even though Azad and Sohrabuddin were 'Big Catch', AP and Gujarat government should have realized that 'Fishes' are not consumed 'Raw' or else it gets 'Stuck' in the throat."
Rajneesh Batra
New Delhi, India
Aug 28, 2010 05:22 PM
3
It would be fair to presume that the police knew more about post mortems than the outlook journalist. If the police wanted to stage an "encounter" would they not have taken adequate steps to cover their tracks on the post mortem?

Sohrabuddin and Azad are criminals and deserve no mercy or enquiry. While there is so much hue and cry about the rights of these criminals, what about the rights of the policemen who do a thankless job of policing the nation against all odds?

Media trail on every encounter would only demoralize the forces further as they would be weary of taking action against any criminal. An inchoate force will lead to lawlessness and anarchy; A situation that the Maoist would love.
sudharshan
madras, india
Aug 28, 2010 05:37 PM
4
This is a dark war, no heroes. There will, unfortunately, be more such incidents before it is over. The media is right to observe and report impartially.
ashok lal
mumbai, India
Aug 28, 2010 05:56 PM
5
The incident, if it had happened, is really very unfortunate one. But, first, let us ascertain the facts. The report ought to bring the facts not the outright accusations, with half known truths, out. It is not fair to accuse the Police. The police, on their part, are intelligent enough to not wipe clean the evidences, in those dense forest, if any, if at all the so called face encounter had taken place. After all, they are the experts in this. The imperative is not to make the out right accusations, but to ascertain all the facts through proper channel. It is high time, that we don't demorolise the already weaked force.
vinay
Mangalore, India
Aug 28, 2010 06:10 PM
6
Lets not look into the fact on how was was killed? Let us justify the killing. He has killed many innocent people and has terrorised lives. Lets not forget that in India Bail is very easy to obtain with the help of politicians. He is in the wanted list of the Govt. of India, lets praise the Andhra Police instead of criticizing them.
Sajay Laloo
Jowai, India
Aug 28, 2010 09:09 PM
7
"Lets not look into the fact on how was was killed? Let us justify the killing."

Absolutely RIGHT. I can't agree more. But, unfortunately, there will be moronic NGOs and activists who will leave no ends to create a ruckus over this.
The Irreverent Indian
Online, India
Aug 28, 2010 09:57 PM
8
Even in his death, Azad proves how really distorted the Indian State has become.
Varun Garde
Bengaluru, India
Aug 28, 2010 10:07 PM
9
Now will the succus stand up to the Congress? Or is the invectives reserved only for Modi?

From what I know of this guy, he deserves to be bumped off in any shape matter or form. All I am looking for is a little consistency from the succus.
Ganesan
Nj, USA
Aug 28, 2010 10:26 PM
10
"All I am looking for is a little consistency from the succus." - ganesan

You expectations/ hopes are unrealistic. The succus are consistent only when it pertains to non-Congress parties.
The Irreverent Indian
Online, India
Aug 28, 2010 10:42 PM
11
--"Lets not look into the fact on how was was killed? Let us justify the killing."

THE IRRELEVANT INDIAN--"Absolutely RIGHT. I can't agree more."

Not surprising in the least bit. This is the preferred method of RSS progeny appropriated by the Congress Party.
Cata Maran
Soccer City, South Africa
Aug 28, 2010 11:28 PM
12
Fake encounters are all too common with the Indian police. According to Swami Agnivesh, instead of negotiating with Azad he has been murdered. Now what? Maoist struggle will continue for another generation, or more perhaps. However, what is puzzling is - why wasn't the post-mortem report doctored? Remember: in the Jessica Lall case the police lab came up with bullet fragments from two separate guns. In the Scarlett Keeling case the first autopsy report claimed that the girl drowned, although a second independent autopsy found no water in the lungs. Again, in the rape-and-murder of two Kashmiri women, the police report initially claimed that the victims drowned in a stream with less than a foot of water. So, what happened in the Azad case; why no cover-up? Is it possible that Azad was killed by one of his own followers on the hillock during the encounter?
S. S. Kere
Richmond, VA, United States
Aug 28, 2010 11:40 PM
13
This report is good but After investigation we can say what is truth... If it's fake encounter, must investigated...And find truth but in A.P. and center congress government..or if big politician of congress are involved in... may be truth will not come against us..
DIPAK D. CHUDASAMA
HYDERABAD, India
Aug 28, 2010 11:44 PM
14
These are the very same naxalites who don't battle an eyelid before killing innocents in the name of 'ideology', and they whine like sissies when they are at the receiving end. How typical of a terrorist organization! Why only Azad, all terrorists deserve to be executed in cold blood. Violators of human rights deserve no rights!
G.Natrajan
Hyderabad, India
Aug 28, 2010 11:52 PM
15
Very good reporting by outlook. Poor and tribal's killing go unreported most often. Govt puts some labels such as naxal on them and then assumes it has right to kill them.

This should be throughly investigated. But this is india and I only hope that this case is not buried in equiries and commisions.
Deepak
USA, India
Aug 29, 2010 12:00 AM
16
--"How typical of a terrorist organization! Why only Azad, all terrorists deserve to be executed in cold blood. "

In other words how dare the Indian State not behave like the Maoist thugs. Guess what ... they just did !!
Cata Maran
Soccer City, South Africa
Aug 29, 2010 12:10 AM
17
"...was picked up and shot with a handgun".

If Azad was in fact "picked up", no shooting can be justified. Moreover killing someone who was out to negotiate would be doubly heinous. This incident has to be thoroughly investigated. The investigation must go as high as it needs to go.
Anwaar
Dallas, United States
Aug 29, 2010 12:54 AM
18
Desire/ Fiction: "The investigation must go as high as it needs to go." - [That's what we all want]

Reality/ Fact: "The investigation must go as LONG as it needs to go."
The Irreverent Indian
Online, India
Aug 29, 2010 01:07 AM
19
This man waged war on the Indian state, why are we wasting media space on him? Cheap politics, the kind that made us slaves to the British!! Pathetic!!! Will we ever learn? These traitors are in the pay of China and it will never be possible to trace the funds flow but the motives are obvious. Get some reporters who can really investigate this matter,and expose China's shenanigans, not merely churn out rubbish like this.
Rakesh Krishnan
Kigali, Rwanda
Aug 29, 2010 01:57 AM
20
Really impressive investigative reporting by Outlook.

Fake encounters are not the answer to solving a law and order problem. If the state is engaging this kind of behavior, it begs the question. What are they trying to enforce? The rule of law? Isn't locking these guys away in Jail forever (after trial) sufficient deterrant?
Puneet
San Francisco, USA
Aug 29, 2010 04:40 AM
21
Let the law take its course. But I have no sympathy for a terrorist.
Ravi Jain
Hyderabad, India
Aug 29, 2010 07:42 AM
22
Author seems to have forgotten the beheading of police inspector and torture and subsequent killing of so called informers by Maoists. Insurgents have to be fought like insurgents.'FIGHT GURILLA LIKE A GURILLA' that is the rule. Why did not author write an investigation report whether head of inspector was cut with saw or khukari or sword. If ever one tastes how does it feel being in the line of fire one would not stroke such fires.
ps randhawa
jalandhar, India
Aug 29, 2010 08:10 AM
23
Bullet for bullet with no hangovers of psuedo human right activists is the best policy for those who do not obey the law but take cover when cornered under democracy and humanr ights.
gopinath
Bangalore, India
Aug 29, 2010 09:24 AM
24
--"These traitors are in the pay of China and it will never be possible to trace the funds flow "

But yet somehow magically you were able to deduct they were in the pay of China !

--"Get some reporters who can really investigate this matter,and expose China's shenanigans, not merely churn out rubbish like this."

Yeah ... how dare they investigate this matter with the objective of arriving at the truth. Dont they already know China did it. Outlook reporters should be shot.
Cata Maran
Soccer City, South Africa
Aug 29, 2010 09:35 AM
25
Mr. Chidambaram is a fine print man. He is used to a paradigm where subtle deflection of nuance, adding a word here or ommiting word there, crossing a 't' here or dotting an 'i' there makes difference of millions of ruppes for people in commerce chambers where he is most compfortable.

He is not at home at Home. Simple thing to do when questions about Azad's death were being asked is to appoint a judical enquiry & get done with it at least for five years - easy to stretch it ten. Pliant retired judges are waiting to be asked. TV genic people with human rights fetish would have been busy talking it out in studios till cows come home.

Now things got little awakward.An judicial enquiry will look to be succumbing to pressure, without that his sincerity about talks will be under cloud.When genuine need for talks will arise - as has happened in every insurgency situation since independence - getting a credible go-between will be hard to come by.

Chidambaram is a fine print man , mundane at home ministry is not for him.
MANISH BANERJEE
KOLKATA, India
Aug 29, 2010 09:42 AM
26
I lost all hope for this country after reading some of the comments made to justify the execution of an innocent human being by the corrupt police of our country.
Babu
h, Bangladesh
Aug 29, 2010 09:43 AM
27
Chemkuri Azad's brilliant takedown of B.G.Varghese is a must read. Chemkuri should be feted for having the courage to speak and fight for the lowest strata in our society, no taken down like a common criminal.

But of course our new friends in the new globalised world would expect nothing less from us. Fuck the Indian Constitution. Lets act like real thugs. After all the Americans and Chinese and Pakistanis have no problems doing what we just did and continue doing. Its shameful what we have become as a Nation.

http://mrzine.monthl...2010/azad120710.html
Cata Maran
Soccer City, South Africa
Aug 29, 2010 09:46 AM
28
--"I lost all hope for this country after reading some of the comments made to justify the execution of an innocent human being by the corrupt police of our country."

I agree. The Internet Warriors are invariably the worst offenders. Like their American counterparts, killing a human is about as entertaining as a video game. Morality is manufactured and tailored to fit the crime.
Cata Maran
Soccer City, South Africa
Aug 29, 2010 10:50 AM
29
cata maran

take the patch from your eyes, take out the cotton wool out of your ears and look at your holy land west of india.
there is more killing in one month than in india in one year. its called the most dangerous place on earth,and the epicentre of terrorism.

for a change move over to a pakistani blog. start with
complaints and watch their reaction. you will be barred
immediately. if you go and protest in public you will be shot -
siemens
dallas, United States
Aug 29, 2010 11:01 AM
30
semens --"take the patch from your eyes, take out the cotton wool out of your ears and look at your holy land west of india. "

I did all you asked. I even jumped up and down a few times. Im still surrounded by idiots in saffron robes. What gives ?? Why the obsession with Pakistan. Is Pakistan your role model ? Why do you live in Dallas when you are so obsessed with Pakistan ?
Cata Maran
Soccer City, South Africa
Aug 29, 2010 11:39 AM
31
So Mamata proves to be absolutely right! It was a murder and nothing else. I should like to know the reaction of the great patriots and 'responsible' media mughals Dr. Prannoy Roy the God of Big Things and Arnab Goswami the Garrulous who were so loud in their condemnation of Mamata for telling the truth.
rabindra kumar ghosh
Palam vihar gurgaon, india
Aug 29, 2010 12:37 PM
32
Given the notoriety of the suspect, it is hard to believe that this would have gone down without the approval of the PM and the Home Minister. But who will bell the cat?
Amit Joshi
Pune, India
Aug 29, 2010 01:42 PM
33
If the police justify an encounter,the Maoists also justy in the same manner.So it boils down to an argument in favour of Maoists and their violence.
The most tragic fact is that Govt. lost it's belief in its own laws!!
The Govt. knows that its laws do not work and hence it tries to cover up a coldblooded murder by cooked up story.

Long ago,
An IPS fellow called some Sharma blinded Chambal dacoits by pouring hydrochloric acid in the eyes of dacoits after piercing their eyes with a needle. So he probably justified his act by telling himself that he or the police system could not prove anything against the dacoit in a court because there would be no witnesses against a dacoit.

It was also the same type of incident recently in Warangal, when police shot dead 4 youth who threw acid on two girls. One girl(college going girls on a scooter)died later. The acid used was very powerful,probably from leather industry in warangal.
Police most probably thought that the criminal (another college student) might easily escape for lack of witness or proof etc.,

So this goes on to prove that State Laws are useless and that police should be rather,trigger happy to keep politicians happy and themselves happy to get promotions ,rewards and awards.
bowenpalle venuraja gopal rao.
warangal, india
Aug 29, 2010 05:35 PM
34
My only problem with this Azaad character's killing is that he was not castrated before he was shot dead. Its not enough to kill these Maoists / leftists / Islamists. They have to be tortured, castrated and skinned alive first. Only then will they learn why its not cool to fight the Indian nation.
Prashant
Bangalore, India
Aug 29, 2010 06:57 PM
35
"Lets not look into the fact on how was was killed? Let us justify the killing. He has killed many innocent people and has terrorised lives.'

If that 'principle' were to be applied uniformly, Modi, Kodnani - indeed half the Gujarat RSS and Mumbai Shiv Sena - and many in the CRPF, the entire Ranvir Sena and individuals like Thackeray, Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar would be long dead.
david albuquerque
Brisbane, Australia
Aug 29, 2010 07:30 PM
36
It appears from most of the posts here that we as a people have lost what what made India and Indians diferent-the ability to really live and let live-and find reasons to pardon even the worst offenders.

Tody we are becoming like those who offend us-is this in our interest????
Atul Chandra
mUMBAI, INDIA
law
No Point-Blank Justice
Jurists say 'encounters' must be investigated by an independent agency. But no law makes this binding.

--
"In the Azad case, the state and the Centre abdicated responsibility. What prevents the Centre from asking AP to hold an inquiry?" —Justice Hosbet Suresh, Ex-judge, Bombay High Court   "I heard 110 cases of encounters in two years...the victims were all shot in the head or chest. The cops must be really great marksmen." —Justice A.P. Shah, Ex-CJ, Delhi High Court

"Encounter killings must be probed.... They mustn't be the rule. And we can't simply accept what the state says without question." —Justice J.S. Verma, Ex-CJI, ex-NHRC head   "The guidelines of the NHRC seem to be ineffective. Time and again we have asked for judicial inquiries into cases of police impunity." —K.G. Kannabiran, Advocate, rights activist

"In the Azad case, as in all others, an independent body must conduct the inquiry, not the same police that killed him." —Justice V.S. Malimath, Ex-CJ of Kerala, Karnataka   "P. Chidambaram, the home minister, should have been the first to order an inquiry into Azad's killing. His silence indicates his guilt." —Prashant Bhushan, Advocate, Supreme Court

Just as the ghost of Sohrabuddin Sheikh has come to haunt the Gujarat government and claimed the state's home minister, will the ghost of Chemkuri Rajkumar Azad, the cpi (Maoist) second-in-command who was shot dead in an 'encounter' on July 1 in the Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh, come to haunt the upa government at the Centre? So it seems, at least from the post-mortem report.

It was always suspected that Azad was killed in cold blood, though neither the state authorities nor the police will admit it. The killing came when the Maoists were preparing for a dialogue with the Centre, which, on its part, is refusing to help find out how he died or was killed. Union home minister P. Chidambaram ducked demands for an inquiry with lofty excuses: that law and order is a state subject, and so the Centre, in the true spirit of federalism, does not interfere in such matters.

This isn't selling well. "It seems the state and the Centre have abdicated responsibility," says Justice Hosbet Suresh, a former judge of the Bombay High Court. "What prevents the Centre from asking the state to hold an inquiry? Such killings prima facie amount to murder and must be recorded as such. A judicial inquiry is an absolute necessity. It must be recognised that such killings violate fundamental human rights."

What is it about such encounters that the police wash their stained hands by saying they had to fire in self-defence and expect people to believe it? Here's the Azad encounter scenario according to the police, belied by the post-mortem report (see main story) which points to a point-blank killing: Azad and his comrades opened fire from a vantage  point on a hill; the police team retaliated; Azad and some others were killed.

Former Delhi High Court chief justice A.P. Shah, who, during a stint as chief justice of Bombay High Court in the late 1990s, heard several encounter cases in which gangsters were eliminated, says, "We examined 110 cases over two years. Each  time, the pattern was the same. The police said they acted in self-defence. But post-mortems always showed the gangsters had been shot either in the head of the left side of the chest. The cops, it would seem, were all exceptional marksmen." Azad, too, was shot in the chest, in the region of the heart.

Usually, nothing comes of encounter cases—even when an inquiry takes place. Justice Shah remembers heading a two-judge bench of  the Bombay High Court that heard a pil filed by the PUCL on the encounter killings of two suspected terrorists. The bench had referred the matter to the principal judge of a civil court, who determined that the encounters were fake. But a new high court bench that took up the case overruled his finding. Some good did emerge, though. On sustained following up from PUCL, the bench also ordered Maharashtra to set up a state human rights commission, which was done in 1997.

Justice Shah says it is important that an independent inquiry be conducted: "In all encounters, including Azad's, only an independent inquiry—not one by the police—can bring out the truth." Former judges and rights activists are all agreed that the judiciary hasn't taken a proactive approach. In Andhra Pradesh alone, since the 1960s, some 2,000 people have been eliminated in encounters. And the courts have usually gone easy when security concerns are raised. It's rarely that that they rein the police in. Last year, the Andhra Pradesh High Court made it mandatory for police to register an FIR after every encounter, with the names of the police personnel involved. It also mandated an independent inquiry and for the self-defence plea to be proved in a court of law. But the police went in appeal and the Supreme Court stayed the order. "It's no surprise," says Justice Suresh. "Every time the police or the state raises concerns of a threat to the country, courts usually grant a stay."

Justice J.S. Verma, a former chief justice of India who also headed the NHRC, says all encounter killings need to be thoroughly investigated. "We must find out whether the killings are an exception—they cannot be the rule," he says. "And one cannot simply accept the version of the state." In 1997, NHRC had drawn up guidelines, saying it wasn't as if being law-enforcers confers on the police the right to take a life, though the law considers killing in self-defence, if proved, a mitigating circumstance. Therefore, the guidelines say, such killings must be investigated properly to ascertain the cause. Like other former judges, Justice V.S. Malimath is firm that such an investigation cannot be by the same police that registers the complaint.

However, K.G. Kannabiran, a rights activist and lawyer, says the NHRC guidelines are ineffective. "We have asked time and again for judicial inquiries into police impunity, but in vain," he says. "Should people be killed for their politics?"

azad encounter
Will Azad become Congress's Sohrabuddin? His post-mortem suggests he was killed in cold blood.
Saikat Datta

azad encounter
Even a cursory examination of the FIR, post-mortem and inquest reports of Azad's death throw up disturbing questions
Outlook

azad encounter
Azad's kin allege it was no ordinary encounter
Madhavi Tata


PhotosWiresBlogsLatest


Match-Fixing Hits Pak Cricket, 7 Players Questioned


5 BSF Jawans Killed in Naxal Ambush in Chhattisgarh


PM Visits JN Stadium, Asks Authorities to Double Efforts


Mamata's Statement on Azad Justified: Pranab


26/11 Case: Court Issues Warrants Against 2 Acquitted


Vedanta Stripped of Safety Awards Over Korba Disaster


Over 650 Indians on Interpol's 'Wanted' List


Paswan Open to Muslim Candidate for Deputy CM


Pak Plans Commission to India to Quiz 26/11 Witnesses



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kshypptl A block development officer was kidnapped on Sunday by armed Maoists from Ladhoura village in Bihar's naxal-hit Sh... http://bit.ly/a5IT4S 12 minutes ago reply

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Most ViewedMost Commented


Death By An Inch... Lies By The Mile


By The Way, I Dropped It


Delhi Diary


The Telescope Lens


American Ayodhya


Listening To The Stone


Churchill's Famine?


Khali Peeli Bunkus Ltd


In Praise Of Ghee


It's Tough Love


1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |

OutlookGroup Magazines

Cover Story


azad encounter
Will Azad become Congress's Sohrabuddin? His post-mortem suggests he was killed in cold blood.

Holes In The Dark

Mountain Of Lies
law
No Point-Blank Justice
Jurists say 'encounters' must be investigated by an independent agency. But no law makes this binding.
Anuradha Raman

National


congress: the way ahead
As Manmohan continues retreat, policy initiatives change hands
paramilitary forces: disabled benefits
The disabled from the paramilitary corps have more battles to fight to get their due
politics: punjab
The Badals win over some ex-Khalistanis
opinion
When Kashmir really speaks, what you hear is a medley of views
opinion
Three killings, all of women; three killers, all known to the victims


International


pakistan: flood relief
The swell of militant groups engaged in flood relief has everyone jittery
diplomacy: indo-us ties
Various irritants cast doubts on India-US ties before Obama's visit
united states: ground zero
US rages over a 'mosque' planned two blocks from Ground Zero


Business


econony: stockmarkets
The highs in our stockmarkets are driven more by individuals than by fundamentals
business: commodities
Price rise in some commodities is worrisome
Poll Sutra
A pop song on repeat cycle will in no way move either mountains or Jairam Ramesh. I learnt this the hard way...


Society


ecology: maharashtra
What's eating up Ratnagiri's fruit?
lucknow: cityscape
Lucknow's historic boulevard is to get a facelift for its bicentenary celebrations
humour: products
Quirky everyday objects, dripping with Indianisms.... The bazaar speaks to us.
Mind your body
You read right, ghee. Ghee—clarified of impurities, strengthened with all the essential fatty acids—is a miracle worker.


Sports


cricket: laws
Play as much by the book as you will, there is enough in MCC rules to queer cricket's pitch


Books


History: bengal famine
A new book indicts Britain's wartime PM for millions of deaths in the 1943 Bengal famine
Sheela Reddy on Churchill's Secret War By Madhusree Mukerjee
review
Piety and prurience, medicine and court intrigue crowd Kakar's richly-felt tapestry set in Shah Jahan's India
Khushwant Singh on The Crimson Throne By Sudhir Kakar
reviews
Fashionably racy, it is nevertheless not superficial.
review
There are no resolutions—only a way to deal with life's ambiguities. Dange's people-watching has paid off.
Manju Kak on The Counsel Of Strangers By Gauri Dange




current issue


Sep 06, 2010



Features


Last Page
Delhi Diary
As Pakistan struggles to cope with the worst humanitarian disaster in living memory, India needs to show both generosity and grace.
Vinod Mehta



cricket: laws
Catcher And The Lie
Play as much by the book as you will, there is enough in MCC rules to queer cricket's pitch
Rohit Mahajan



opinion
Listening To The Stone
When Kashmir really speaks, what you hear is a medley of views
Tarun Vijay



opinion
Home-Made Homicides
Three killings, all of women; three killers, all known to the victims
R.K. Raghavan



History: bengal famine
Churchill's Famine?
A new book indicts Britain's wartime PM for millions of deaths in the 1943 Bengal famine
Sheela Reddy



ecology: maharashtra
Aam Vs The Aadmi
What's eating up Ratnagiri's fruit?
Debarshi Dasgupta



humour: products
Khali Peeli Bunkus Ltd
Quirky everyday objects, dripping with Indianisms.... The bazaar speaks to us.
Namrata Joshi



Mind your body
In Praise Of Ghee
You read right, ghee. Ghee—clarified of impurities, strengthened with all the essential fatty acids—is a miracle worker.
Rujuta Diwekar



regulars


People
Glitterati
The page 3 people, the chatterati and those in the news for being in the news



10 Questions
Swara Bhaskar
Strategic analyst C. Uday Bhaskar's daughter on her debut film Madholal Keep Walking
Paromita Mukhopadhyay



showtime
Lafangey Parindey
Despite being "not too bad", it doesn't quite go beyond the lacklustre either.
Namrata Joshi



gossip
Polscape
Random notes, gossip, bitching, angles, conspiracy theories, spoofs, essential fundas




Palash Biswas
Pl Read:
http://nandigramunited-banga.blogspot.com/

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