The Human Rights Forum (HRF) demands that those police personnel who participated in the alleged encounter killing of Mohd. Nayeemuddin near Shadnagar in Mahbubnagar district on August 8, 2016 be booked under relevant provisions of the IPC including murder. The investigation into the case must be conducted by an agency as independent as possible of the Telangana and AP police. The version of the police that Nayeemuddin died in an exchange of fire with the police and that the police only retaliated and fired in self-defence leading to his death, cannot be the last word in the matter. While we hold absolutely no brief for Mohd. Nayeemuddin, we wish to make the point that whether his death is the result of a genuine exchange of fire or an extra-judicial killing by the police has to be determined in a court of law. The court is the proper authority to decide upon the veracity or otherwise of the police version. It will not do for the police to simply put out an ‘encounter’ story and wash their hands of the matter.
Mohd. Nayeemuddin was possibly the most notorious and vicious of the criminal counter-insurgent gangs that operated and terrorised society with total impunity since over two decades. It is an open secret that these gangs, and Nayeemuddin in particular, enjoyed State patronage. His is the most glaring case of the State managing to co-opt militants who had earlier worked in Naxalite parties and then encouraged to form paramilitary gangs. He was allowed to operate as a virtual don, settling private land and business disputes with the undisguised use of violence, making a fortune for himself and his associates with the police benignly looking on and perhaps even taking a share of the gains. These armed gangs would also regularly issue threatening and abusive statements in the Press demanding of activists of various democratic organisations that they forthwith give up their activity.
There is very little doubt that it was Nayeemuddin’s gang that killed T. Purushotham of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) on 23-11-2000 in Hyderabad, and Md. Azam Ali of the same organisation at Nalgonda on 18-2-2001. Nayeemuddin personally participated in the kidnapping of Dr G. Lakshman, then President of APCLC, on 6-11-2003 in the aftermath of the near-fatal attack on the then Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu near Tirupati on 1-10-2003 by the Peoples War. Dr. Lakshman was tortured and forced to deny the kidnapping and the torture. Nayeemuddin’s outfit would also regularly issue threatening and abusive statements in the Press demanding of activists of various democratic organisations that they forthwith give up their activity.
We believe that successive governments’ had ample chance all these years to arrest this gangster but chose not to do so. This is because he was doing the State’s bidding and there was close nexus between several high ranking policemen and Nayeemuddin. We recall that complete disarming of these killer gangs was one of the demands raised during the six month period in the later half of the year 2004 when there was a cease-fire between the police and the Maoists and some attempt at a dialogue was made. However, nothing happened.
The HRF, in particular late K Balagopal, has time and again pointed out that such criminal gangs, actively abetted by the State, should have no place in a civilised society. We have consistently campaigned against the phenomenon of private gangs operating in the name of ‘Tigers’ and ‘Cobras’ and killing people with impunity in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. We have, along with other rights organisations across the country, pointed to the dangers of the State deliberately encouraging private militias and standing silently by as they committed murders and forced activists of democratic organisations by public threats to resign and become inactive.
HRF also demands that a comprehensive enquiry be held to unearth facts of the nexus between such criminal gangs and the police.
VS Krishna S Jeevan Kumar
(HRF general secretary, TS&AP) (HRF president, TS&AP)