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Veerappan killed in fake encounter: activists

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, JAN. 18. Several human rights outfits, which rallied under the banner of the Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties (CPCL), today claimed that circumstantial evidence indicated that the forest brigand Veerappan was killed in a "fake encounter", even as his widow, Muthulakshmi, alleged that she was being harassed by Special Task Force (STF) personnel.

Addressing a press conference here, Ramasamy, secretary, People's Democratic Front-Karnataka, said a fact-finding team comprising eight human rights organisations from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Pondicherry visited various places, including the areas where Veerappan and his associates often visited, and gathered information from the locals.

Feedback from villagers

Releasing the report, he said the feedback indicated that Veerappan and his associates, including Sethukkuli Govindan, were tortured to death. Photographs showing wound marks on their bodies also indicated that the "encounter was a stage-managed one", he claimed.

Mr. Ramasamy said the CPCL would submit its report to the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu Governments, besides moving a public interest litigation petition to bring the facts behind Veerappan's death to light.

He also demanded a probe by a judge of the High Court. The outfits demanded that the STF personnel who were charged by the affected people before the Sadasivam Commission must be subjected to legal proceedings.

`Police surveillance'

Meanwhile, Ms. Muthulakshmi alleged that she and her daughters were harassed by the STF personnel, as she had been demanding that a re-postmortem be done on Veerappan's body. She had been isolated from her relatives, because of "police surveillance". Some of the confiscated property was not returned to her, she claimed. Raising apprehensions about the genuineness of the encounter, she alleged that her husband was killed in view of his "growing popularity."

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