The Tales of ‘Deadman’s Rock’

P Varalakshmi

The script of encounters is too old. The story is refurbished now-a-days. Chandra Babu Naidu laid a foundation to new Andhra with killing of three persons in encounter in Nallamala. Naraji did not stop there. Just ten kilometers away from his native village, twenty coolies were killed in Seshachalam forests. He proceeded to Singapore carrying the stories that these bloody killings are approved by people.

Civil Liberties activist commented: the places selected for encounter suggest snobbery. Sacchinodi banda (Deadman's rock), Cheekateegala kona (Dark corners) are the places where the encounters took place. The activists further said: 'the names of places, the tragedy are sounding synonymous'. Not a single red sandal wood tree is found within 3 km of these places. Neither stones, (the most lethal weapon that can kill police armed to teeth), nor any rocky hillocks. Three axes, couple of rickety country made guns strewn over nearby the dead bodies. Sandal wood logs were inter-spread between dead human beings. The logs were old, with crime numbers / painted on them. As usual, the bullets were pierced into chest and head, making laborious fact finding by Civil Liberties people superfluous. Watch the TV, the visuals could spill the beans. Such is the police brazenness in spinning the encounter story, caring a hoot to the pubic opinion.

While the civil rights activists have been straining their nerves in untangling the Gordian knots behind the encounters, the police are bringing forward the discussion coolly and quietly whether they are 'coolies or smugglers' to justify police killings. After killings, the police prepared a post script: 'They deserve the denouncement' media grabs the story, makes it spicy and fulfills its blessed duty of carrying faithfully the police version. Opposition does rarely speak, like a guest actor in a film.

Those who were killed in Suryapet encounter might be thieves or terrorists. But one thing was for sure, that it was an encounter at Suryapet. Two were killed. On the other side—four policemen were killed. So the equation had to be squared. As if it were a case of throttling the parrots in a cage, handcuffed under-trials had to pay for their lives. The police shoved their weapons into dead man's hands, who were shackled. Trials might have freed them. So, not to let them go scot free, sentence was hurried by the police. If anyone raises his/her voice, they are shouted down : ‘Do you want to support terrorists?’ Who will decide anyone a terrorist or not? Are the police? Is it the duty of media? Will the saffron brigade that wears the badge of patriotism?

Indian democracy is an irony just as the encounters of Aleru, Sachhinodi-banda and Cheekateegala kona. Law is equal to all, it is said. But more equal to some. Such fortunates can enter the legislatures.

Some, despite hanging allegations of murder hanging like Damocles' swords, without fear, can become heads of this country. Some plunder billions, yet rule the state. Some are decorated with awards and promotions, in spite of committing heinous crimes. Still, all are equal in the eye of law. Just a caveat: some are less equal.

Now the red sandalwood is seen as a money spinner. The seized logs used to rot in the forest godowns. Government can now sell them. Total stock ranges up to 8000 tons. First half was already auctioned in last December. The rest will be disposed within May, 2015. Official rate would earn maximum Rs 1.5 crore for a single tone. Sandalwood is on the endangered list of plant species. The international environment laws won't permit them to sell.

When capital's juggernaut is trampling the nature ferociously with its iron wheels, anything can become a commodity now. Red sandalwood is the flora that helps protect the fauna and environment of parched Rayalaseema. Now the issue is not about felling of sandalwood trees, but who has the authority to do so. The Andhra Pradesh government has sharpened its eagle's eyes on this treasure trove. Its calculation is simple—3000 tons of red sandalwood is the annual demand in the international market. So, plans are in full swing to open new vistas of money flow, to augment these plans; encounters were done with killer instinct. The total number for encounters on red sandalwood coolies are eight, the last five took place, after May, 2014. Spreading the red carpet for MNCs and promising moon, Chandra Babu avowedly said this: "AP is free from all movements, and we will ensure you law and order." Are the twins of Telugu Chief Ministers indicating to anchor graveyard peace by staging synchronizing encounters?

Vol. 47, No. 49, June 14 - 20, 2015