Strongly condemning Mudigonda police firing in Andhra Pradesh, the Amnesty International has slammed the use of AK-47 rifles by the police on civilian protestors on July 28.
Amnesty International also demanded that the state government ensure that the judicial inquiry ordered into the incident should be completely impartial, independent and thorough.
In a media statement, Amnesty International observed that the parameters (terms of reference) of the inquiry need to be promptly and clearly outlined. “The inquiry should determine whether the use of force by the police was consistent with national law and international standards including the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, and the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials,” the statement pointed out.
“Amnesty International is concerned that the action of the police at the demonstration violated the principles, and the victims’ right to life. The action of protestors did not warrant such a response where at least 70 rounds were reportedly fired at the crowd.
The use of AK-47 assault rifles is particularly inappropriate method of policing such demonstrations,” the statement added.
Welcoming the judicial inquiry ordered by the state government besides suspension of three police officers, the Amnesty International wanted the government to criminally prosecute any police officer found having resorted to excessive use of force.
Meanwhile, the use of AK-47 rifles on civilians has drawn flak from the Left parties and Telugu Desam Party. CPI-M leader Brinda Karat, CPI state secretary Dr K Narayana and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu lambasted the police for using AK-47 rifles and other automatic weapons at Mudigonda, resulting in the death of seven persons and injuries to 18 others.
Internal inquiries by the state police revealed that, in all, nine weapons — three AK-47s, three self-loading rifles (carbines) and three 9-mm pistols were used by the police personnel at Mudigonda on July 28 when a protest by Left activists as part of their statewide bandh took a violent turn. Mostly, the firing was from the three SLRs and three AK-47 rifles.
Five special police party personnel carried three SLRs and two AK-47 rifles and the third AK 47 rifle belonged to Ravi, gunman of the controversial additional Superintendent of Police Ramesh Babu who was suspended in the wake of the incident. Circle inspector Surender Reddy and Sub-Inspector Venkat Reddy also fired from their pistols. They have also been placed under suspension.
In all, 140 rounds were fired on the agitators. The 40-odd police personnel present at the spot during last Saturday’s violence at Mudigonda included 25 AP special police personnel from anti-Naxalite squad who are trained to handle any critical situation. APSP constable K Murali Babu, who suffered a head injury in stone-pelting by the mob, lost his cool and fired 70 rounds with AK-47 rifle. Seeing him, four of his colleagues also opened fire.
Post-mortem on the bodies of the seven police firing victims showed that two victims received three bullets each while another victim was hit by two bullets.
Three other victims sustained one bullet wound each. This indicated that the police firing was indiscriminate and prolonged and some victims received more bullet injuries even after they fell to the ground.
By Syed Amin Jafri