The recent uproar witnessed in the Andhra Pradesh and the Telangana region with regard to the killing of 20 red sandalwood smugglers is astonishing. There is widespread anger, emotions are running high among people who allege that the police staged fake encounter.
There are differing tales of the encounter. Some say it was staged, to expedite the process of justice, others believe the shooting was in self defence. Who really knows?
The commander of the anti-smuggling task force, whose officers are accused of the alleged crimes, said they acted in self-defence after being attacked by men armed with axes, sticks and stones in the remote forest of Chittoor, which is notorious for sandalwood smuggling.
One of the victim’s wife alleges kidnap and murder.
There is a growing calls for an independent investigation over the killings. That is the correct course of action. To accuse the police authorities of murdering without knowing the ground reality is not just unfair, it is appalling! How can the protesters and the others who are creating chaotic atmosphere and spreading misinformation know what really took place? Were they all sitting on tree tops in the jungles of Chitoor, at vantage points, while the shootout took place? If not, then what do they know?
Whether it was the right action or fake encounter, only the court can decide on the basis of investigation.
Ishrat Jahan and Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s encounter were also tagged as a staged encounter. It is a ridiculous phenomenon. Unless and until the courts investigate, deliberate and pass judgment, we should restrain ourselves from allowing emotions to get the better of our senses.
We have no right to make unsubstantiated allegations on the police officers who face death at every moment of their lives. Making sweeping, insensitive comments expose our flawed thinking.
India banned sandalwood’s sale in 2000 after the tree was placed on an endangered list, but illegal logging is rampant. If such a situation is to be avoided in future, the State Government must introduce stringent measures to prevent smugglers from gaining entry into the region. Patrolling and other security-related measures should be put in place.