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HC turns down slain Naxal leader's mother's plea

By Mohammed Siddique
Last updated on: July 02, 2010 17:45 IST
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The Andhra Pradesh high court has directed the state government to conduct a post-mortem on slain Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad on Saturday only after his mother Karuna sees his body. 

Rajkumar -- the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist's second most important leader and central committee member -- was killed in an encounter in Adilabad district on Friday.
Acting on a petition filed by the mother seeking the post-mortem at the Osmania General Hospital in Hyderabad, the HC ordered that the post-mortem should be conducted at Mancherial area hospital in Adilabad district. .
The court rejected Karuna's plea -- that her son's body should be brought to Hyderabad -- as it might create law and order problems in the city. 
Karuna's lawyer said that she wanted the post-mortem to be conducted by forensic experts in the wake of allegations that Azad was killed in a fake encounter.

Vara Vara Rao, a Maoist sympathiser and revolutionary poet, had filed a separate petition in the high court, demanding that a murder case be registered against the police officials involved in the incident. But his plea was rejected by the court.
Vara Vara termed the high court's orders as 'inhuman', saying, "She is 70 years old and suffering from serious ailments and the court wants her to travel to Mancherial to see her son's body."

Earlier, Adilabad District Superintendent of Police P Pramod Kumar said the two Maoists were killed in a 'genuine' encounter in the wee hours of Friday in Jogapur forest area in Adilabad district. 

Talking to mediapersons about the incident, he said that the two Maoists were killed in a four and a half-hour long encounter in the forest.

"The encounter started at around 10 pm (on Thursday) and continued till 3.30 am," he said, adding that 20 Maoists were involved in the exchange of fire.

Pramod Kumar said that no policeman was injured in the incident.

There were 16 criminal cases booked against Azad in different places in the state and he carried a reward of Rs 10 lakh, he added. According to Kumar, Azad's wife Setakka was also a member of the Maoist squad.

The police recovered an AK-47 rifle, a 9 mm pistol and 2 kit bags from the scene of the incident.

Azad, an M Tech degree holder from Warangal regional engineering college, had been with the Maoist movement since the last three and a half decades and had the reputation of being an expert strategist. He was an accused in the killing of Congress legislator C Narsi Reddy along with 10 others in Mahbubnagar district on August 15, 2005.

Apart from being the central committee member, he was also the member of the politburo, the highest policy making body of the organisation. He had joined the movement during his student days and led the Radical Students Union during the Emergency.

Interestingly, the CPI Maoist had earlier said that Azad had gone missing on March 11, 2010 and alleged that the Special Investigations Bureau of the Andhra Pradesh police had picked him up.

It had also expressed apprehensions that he would be killed in a fake encounter. But a week later, the organisation withdrew the statement, stating that he had reached a safe place after remaining untraceable for a week.

Azad is the third most important Maoist leader to be killed by the Andhra Pradesh police in less than a year. Maoist central military commission member Patel Sudhakar Reddy was killed in an encounter in Warangal district in May last year while state committee member Shakamuri Appa Rao was shot dead in an encounter in Prakasham district on March 12.

Fake encounter?

Meanwhile, CPI-Maoist spokesman Gudsa Usendi has alleged that Azad was killed in a fake encounter.

He told over the phone, "Azad was to meet a courier, Sahdev at 11 am on Thursday and accompany him to Dandakaranya region to participate in some programmes."

Usendi alleged that the Special Investigations Bureau of Andhra Pradesh police picked up the duo on the way. After subjecting them to torture throughout the night, the police killed them in a fake encounter, he alleged.

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Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad