Red sanders ‘smugglers’ killings: AP cops launch big manhunt, CM Naidu briefs Rajnath Singh

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Nellore: A day after 20 red sanders ‘smugglers’ were shot dead by the special task force in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on Friday briefed Union home minister Rajnath Singh about the incident.

On Tuesday, NHRC issued a notice to Andhra Pradesh government seeking a report on the killings.

“Police will always justify actions. We will probe the incident,” NHRC chief KG Balakrishnan said.

Meanwhile, the AP Police has formed seven teams and has launched a manhunt for the woodcutters who escaped deep into the forests as well as escaped to Kadapa and Nellore district borders.

According to Task Force DIG Kanta Rao, two task force teams comprising 30 members had been deputed to the Srivarimettu area at around 7 pm on Monday after they came to know that around 200 smugglers and illegal woodcutters moving in the Seshachalam forests.

“It has been a practice with smugglers to scare away unarmed forest officials by hurling stones and displaying lethal weapons. Although we have warned them about the threat to their lives through awareness camps, they did not take it seriously. Our teams were forced to open fire in self-defence as the smugglers continued the attack despite being warned,” Mr Kanta Rao said.

This is the first major encounter in the region after the formation of the task force. The task force was constituted after smugglers had killed two forest officials, deputy range officer Sridhar and assistant beat officer David Kumar, in December 2012 in the Seshachalam forests.

The task force was headed by a DSP level officer in the past but the Telugu Desam government, which is determined to stop red sanders smuggling, posted senior IPS officer, Mr Kanta Rao, for better coordination with district police superintendents and other senior officers.

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