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15 Nov 2010

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) considers the raid and alleged recovery of “banned literature” and correspondence from Babita Pandey’s rented accommodation in New Delhi by the Andhra Pradesh State Intelligence Bureau (APSIB) to be an attempt at justifying the cold blooded killing of her husband Hem Chandra Pandey and Cherukuri Rajkumar @ Azad.

By showing him to be member of a banned organization, the APSIB and its political bosses want to suggest that Hem Chandra Pandey’s alleged membership of a banned organisation somehow justifies his execution.

PUDR wishes to draw attention to the fact that investigations by the civil liberties groups as well as by the media have documented credible evidence which shows that the two deceased were picked up and annihilated. The so called forensic report put out by APSIB has not been able to refute the fact that Azad and Hem C. Pandey were shot from close range and that entry and exit wounds on the deceased as well as the trajectory of the bullet entering from top and exiting lower down is impossible if the two deceased were on top of the hill and the AP police force fired from below. Instead of ordering a judicial inquiry the authorities are letting APSIB divert attention from a heinous crime to show that Hem Chandra Pandey was a member of the CPI(Maoist). As though membership of a banned organization justified extra-judicial execution of Hem Chandra Pandey and Azad.

It is a documented fact Hem Chandra Pandey earned his livelihood as a journalist. Whether he was or he was not a member of a banned organization is inconsequential. Because the Indian Constitution nowhere allows execution of a person who is, or is suspected to be, member of a banned organization. Unlawful Activities Prevention Act nowhere says that punishment for being member of a banned organization is summary killing.

Moreover, it is an absurdity that by summarily proscribing an organization, the authorities criminalise what is in reality, and under Indian Constitution, legitimate activities and expression. The incongruity of banning CPI(Maoist) and persecuting those said to be its members, becomes evident also from the fact that Hindutva terrorists remain scot free. RSS is allowed to preach divisive and venomous politics, propagate filth as so eloquently brought out by the former Sanghsanchalak Sudershan, and carry out acts of murderous violence against civilians.

We, therefore, urge the Union Home Ministry, which has often proclaimed the ministry’s commitment to the rule of law, to desist from allowing APSIB to excuse its extra-judicial killing by raiding the house of the deceased in her absence and splashing alleged recoveries to the media. It is essential to it persuades the AP government to order a high powered judicial inquiry into the ‘encounter’ which took place on July 2, 2010.

Asish Gupta and Moushumi Basu