Mystery deepens over identity of ‘journalist’ killed with Azad

Hyderabad, July 4 (Calcutta Tube) The mystery over the identity of a ‘journalist’ killed along with top Maoist leader Azad in the alleged exchange of fire with police Friday deepened with the the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist issuing contradictory statements.

While a statement sent to some newspapers, purportedly by the central committee of the outfit identifed Hemchandra Pandey as a Maoist, a Maoist leader told television channels over the phone that no such statement was issued by the party.

A woman, Bineeta alias Babita from Delhi, who claimed to be Pandey’s wife, had Saturday claimed that he was a freelance journalist and had no links with the Maoists.

Meanwhile, Pandey’s body was shifted from Manchriyal town to Bellampally in Adilabad district. The autopsy on the body was conducted Saturday at Manchriyal hospital.

Maoists had initially suspected him to be its cadre Sahadev. However, they later claimed that he was freelance journalist. Maoist sympathiser Varvara Rao had told reporters Saturday that Pandey accompanied Azad to interview him and do a story on the police excesses on tribals in Chhattisgarh.

Varvara Rao alleged that Andhra police arrested them in Nagpur and killed them in cold blood after bringing them to Adilabad district.

A statement in the name of CPI-Maoist central committee sent to some newspapers Saturday said Pandey was a Maoist. It demanded the government hand over the body to his mother living in Haldwani in Uttarakhand.

According to the statement sent by one Ajay, a spokesman of north regional bureau, 30-year-old Pandey was zonal committee member of the outfit. He did his MA in history from Nainital University and joined then People’s War (CPI-ML People’s War Group) in 2001

However, CPI-Maoist Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee spokesman Gudsa Usendi denied that the party issued any such statement. He told some news channels over the phone that Pandey was not a Maoist.

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