Andhra minister promises probe into slain man’s identity

Hyderabad, July 5 (Calcutta Tube) Andhra Pradesh Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy Monday said a probe would be ordered to find out if Hemchandra Pandey, killed along with Maoist leader Azad in a gunfight with police, was a leftwing rebel or a journalist as claimed by his family.

Reddy gave the assurance when Pandey’s wife Babita called on her here. Babita claims that Pandey was not a Maoist and that police killed him in a ‘fake encounter’.

The woman from Delhi told the home minister that police arrested Pandey in Nagpur and killed him along with Azad after bringing them to Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh.

Claiming that her husband was a freelance journalist, Babita demanded a probe into his killing and punishment to the guilty.

The minister pointed out that the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) released a statement identifying Pandey as a Maoist. She claimed that Azad and Pandey were killed in a real gun battle with police.

CPI-Maoist politburo member and spokesman Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad and Pandey were killed in the forests of Adilabad district bordering Maharashtra Friday.

Police said they were killed during a three-hour shootout but Maoists and civil liberties activists have alleged it was a stage-managed ‘encounter’.

Azad was cremated in Hyderabad Sunday while the body of Pandey has been kept at a mortuary in a government hospital in Bellampally in Adilabad district.

Maoists had initially suspected him to be its cadre Sahadev. However, they later said he was a freelance journalist, who wanted to interview Azad.

Hailing from Uttarakhand, Pandey was based in Delhi and was reportedly wrote for some Hindi dailies.

The mystery over his identity deepened Sunday when a statement purportedly sent by CPI-Maoist said Pandey was a Maoist. However, the CPI -Maoist denied the party issued any such statement.

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