Hyderabad, July 6 (Calcutta Tube) The body of Hemchandra Pandey, a freelance journalist killed with Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad in an alleged gunfight with police, was Tuesday taken to New Delhi.
Pandey’s wife Babita, who says that her husband was a freelance journalist and not a Maoist, was handed over the body by the police at Bellampally in Adilabad district.
She and other relatives brought the body to Hyderabad, where it was kept at the Press Club for journalists to pay their last respects before being flown to New Delhi.
The family plans to donate the body to the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
A section of journalists, who had collected money for transporting the body to Delhi, took exception to Indian Journalists Union secretary K. Srinivas Reddy and former chairman of Andhra Pradesh Press Academy D. Amar not paying their respects.
Srinivas Reddy and Amar clarified that they were not sure if Pandey was a journalist. Some journalists raised slogans against them.
Babita denied police claims that Pandey was a Maoist and alleged that police killed him in a staged shootout after arresting him along with Azad in Nagpur. She demanded a thorough probe into the killing.
She met state Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy, who ordered a probe into Pandey’s identity.
A statement purportedly sent by the outlawed Communist Party of India-Masoit (CPI-Maoist) to some newspapers Sunday identified Pandey as a Maoist. However, a Maoist leader clarified that no such statement was issued.
CPI-Maoist politburo member and spokesman Azad and Pandey were Friday killed in the forests of Adilabad district bordering Maharashtra.
Police said they were killed in a three-hour long gunfight but Maoists and rights activists allege that it was a staged shootout.
Hailing from Uttarakhand, Pandey was based in Delhi and was reportedly working for some Hindi dailies.