Hyderabad ( PTI): Three witnesses in the killing of 20 men in Seshachalam forests in Andhra Pradesh have come out in the open questioning the encounter theory of the police.
Claiming to speaking from a safe house, one of the witnesses Balachandran, whose whose father was one of the 20 who were killed, said they had decided to speak for "justice to those killed".
Another witness Elangovan (20) from Tiruvannamalai district in Tamil Nadu said that he had gone along with his friend Paneerselvam to do the job of a coolie.
"Once we reached AP, cops surrounded us and threw us in a truck without giving any reason. There were 20 people in it. We were taken to a place with lots of trees and police vehicles," he told NDTV.
Elangovan said they were asked to come down and their photographs were taken. He escaped somehow and reached his village. Later he learnt Paneerselvam was killed.
Balachandran and another witness Sekar had deposed before the NHRC in New Delhi to record their statements in connection with the firing and sought police protection, on April 13.
Later they were also produced before mediapersons by huuman rights activist Henri Tiphagne who is representing the witnesses at the NHRC, but they did not speak anything in the conference.
Balahandran said that an agent Palani took eight men including himself and his father Harikrishna from his village in Dharmapuri in TN for some construction work in Andhra Pradesh. They stopped at Nagari Puttur where he joined another men for drinks, while the remaining group members headed forward.
Later he got a call informing that they were arrested and taken to Tirupati. He said when he called back, an unknown person told him to join the group but sensing trouble he went back to his village. His father was one of the 20 killed by the police.
Middle-aged Sekar, the third witness, who travelled from Tiruvannamali said that when his bus entered Andhra, a stranger with short hair came in the bus and forced his friend Mahendra to get down with him. Mahendran was among those killed in the forest.
Twenty people were killed in the police firing in Seshachalam forest near Tirupati in an operation said to be against red sandalwood tree cutters on April 7 by the AP Police.