Chennai : The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which suo motu inquired into the gunning down of 20 woodcutters from Tamil Nadu by the Andhra Pradesh Special Task Force in Tirupati on April 7, has ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the incident.

Besides, the NHRC has directed the Andhra Pradesh Government to pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to family members of the each of the victims.

Talking to journalists in Chennai, NHRC member Justice D Murugesan said considering the background of the victims, the delay in registration of FIR, improvements made by the officers of the State Government, the nature of weapons allegedly seized from the spot and testimonies of witnesses, there were strong grounds to suspect serious human rights violation in the incident.

On April 7, the Andhra STF had claimed to have shot dead 20 “red sander tree smugglers”, all hailing from Tamil Nadu in two separate encounters in the Seshachalam forests on the foothills of Tirupati. However, many of the victims bore close-range bullet injuries.

“We have directed the Governments of India and Andhra Pradesh to have the case investigated by the CBI and submit an action taken report to the NHRC within four weeks,” Justice Murugesan said. Besides, the NHRC has directed the Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary and Director General of Police to appear before the Commission on June 9 and furnish all information about the incident.

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