Tension on AP-TN border
The protests following killing of 20 woodcutters who were alleged to be working for red sanders smugglers in Seshachalam forests on Tuesday continue to have their echo on the borders of Chennai and Andhra Pradesh. On Friday, tension prevailed at the borders of the two states as hundreds of party cadres led by the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra
Tamil Nadu cops stop MDMK chief Vaiko from entering AP
Tirupati: The protests following killing of 20 woodcutters who were alleged to be working for red sanders smugglers in Seshachalam forests on Tuesday continue to have their echo on the borders of Chennai and Andhra Pradesh. On Friday, tension prevailed at the borders of the two states as hundreds of party cadres led by the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary V Gopalaswamy alias Vaiko marched towards the state of Andhra Pradesh on Friday.
Vaiko and his group wanted to hold a dharna at Chittoor Collectorate to protest against the government’s attitude and put pressure on it to order a CBI and judicial probe. Meanwhile, the Hyderabad High Court on Friday sought to know if AP Police have registered a case of unnatural death in connection with the killing of woodcutters.
Additional Advocate General (AAG) D Srinivas submitted before the court that a magisterial inquiry is underway into the April 7 operation as per guidelines of the Supreme Court. The AAG then informed the court that NHRC has issued notices on the matter. MDMK activists numbering 1,500 arrived at the Anna Kalaiarangam in Vellore city to express their solidarity. Vaiko, who arrived at the venue, condemned the brutal killings.
He demanded immediate arrest and slapping of murder charges against police officials responsible for the encounter. He demanded a compensation of Rs 20 lakh per person. He criticised Naidu for not coming out openly on the issue. Pointing out to the alleged police excesses against innocent woodcutters, Vaiko said thousand more were languishing in various jails in Chittoor, Nellore and Kadapa districts for several months now. He demanded the Andhra Pradesh government to put an end to the cruelty towards the woodcutters.
Vaiko slammed the Andhra Pradesh Forest Minister Bojjala Gopalakrishna Reddy, who tried to justify the killings, and said the AP government instead of going after woodcutters who are “soft targets” should actually go after the kingpins of the trade. After addressing his party workers, Vaiko led a huge rally from Vellore towards Chittoor when the Tamil Nadu police intercepted him near the Vellore fort.
All of them were lodged in a private wedding hall and were released later in the evening. Meanwhile, the DMK announced a cash relief of Rs 1 lakh to the families of 20 woodcutters, alleged to be red sanders smugglers, who were gunned down in Andhra Pradesh on April 7. Party chief M Karunanidhi said the sum will be handed over to the families by the party's respective district secretaries and other senior leaders. In a statement, he also said the state government's relief of Rs 3 lakh to the victims’ kin was “very less”.