Chennai: Countering claims made by the police that the men who went to cut down red sanders were shot dead in an encounter, one man who reportedly escaped from the scene and reached his village claimed that the bus they were travelling in was intercepted, the men arrested and taken to the forests where they were shot dead in cold blood.
Even as the first batch of kin of encounter victims arrived at the Ruia Government Hospital on Wednesday to confirm the identities of the deceased, Sekar of Gandhinagar, Polur taluk, who claimed to be a survivor, reached his village in the Tiruvannamalai hills on Tuesday morning to inform that seven others had been arrested by the AP police near Nagari, 50 km from the encounter scene.
“By the time we considered options to get them out on bail, police personnel from Kannamangalam police station reached us with photographs of the deceased, saying they were killed in an encounter near Tirupati,” said G. Karunakaran, brother of one of the 20 persons who were shot down.
The seven had left their homes on Monday.
They had boarded a bus from Tiruvannamalai to Chittoor when the members of the Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force intercepted the bus near Nagari, about 50 km from the encounter scene on Monday evening.
“All of them are casual labourers and go to work at different places. I have known them to work in Tiruppur, Chennai, Chittoor and even in Kerala on construction jobs,” said Sivakumar of Anantapuram.
Sekar, who looks older than the rest and who had a woman passenger sitting beside him in the bus, escaped arrest as the cops overlooked him while arresting seven others.
Sekar caught the next bus back home and spread the word among the villagers about the arrest only to learn in a few hours that the men were no more.