TIRUPATI: Indian police said last week they had acted in self-defense when they fired on a group of alleged timber smugglers in the remote forests of Tirupati in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, home to the rare trees that produce red sandalwood.
But activists and relatives have challenged that version of events, and on Wednesday a case was filed with a local court charging “unknown persons” in the force with murder and abduction.
It would not be the first deadly clash between police in the state and loggers of red sandalwood, which is smuggled to China and Japan where it is highly prized for its rich hue and purported medicinal value.
But the number of victims in this case was particularly high. All 20 were from Tamil Nadu, where street protests erupted last week after news of the killings emerged.
Rights activists say the evidence points to a “fake encounter” ─ a commonly used term in India for staged confrontations in which police or military forces execute unarmed suspects and later claim it as self-defence.
Kanagarani, wife of the victom of Police firing said that she saw her husband when he left their village on a mountainside in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to look for work.
She asked for justice from Indian government.
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