Man killed with Azad a journalist

G.S. RADHAKRISHNA AND TAPAS CHAKRABORTY

The body of Pandey, identified earlier as Sahdev by police

July 3: The man killed with Maoist leader Azad in an encounter yesterday was a freelance Hindi journalist who was interviewing him, Andhra Pradesh police have said a day after wrongly identifying the second victim as a guerrilla named Sahdev.

The family of Maoist sympathiser and Uttarakhand-based journalist Hemachandra Pandey, 35, had earlier got in touch with rights activists such as poet Varavara Rao in Andhra after seeing his pictures in newspapers, captioned “Sahdev”.

In the 1990s, the police had shot dead an Urdu journalist, Gulam Rasool, along with a Maoist whom he was interviewing on Hyderabad’s outskirts.

Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad, the Maoist No. 3, was camping with 20-25 guerrillas on a hillock in the Wankhidi forests of Adilabad to be interviewed by Pandey, a senior district police officer said.

Police patrols, tipped off about a Maoist leader’s visit, surrounded the hideout after noticing movements through their night-vision binoculars, he said. “When the guerrillas refused to surrender and began shooting, the police retaliated. The rest of the Maoists ran away after they found their leader shot along with the interviewer.”

Uttarakhand police, who have carried out a probe on a request from their Andhra counterparts, said Pandey had left his home in Pithoragarh, Kumaon, for Nagpur in Maharashtra on June 30 to do the interview. He apparently boarded a train from Haldiwani station, travelled to Delhi and then on to Nagpur.

Some of his friends and a brother, who is also a journalist, knew he was going on an assignment for a newspaper and a news channel, says the Uttarakhand police report that has been handed to the state government in Dehra Dun. The newspaper and the channel have denied commissioning any such interview.

Azad’s mother Karuna and the Maoists have alleged that Azad was arrested with another person on Thursday at Bitaburdi in Nagpur — where he had gone to take political classes for cadres — brought to Adilabad and shot in a fake encounter.

“My husband had informed me about his visit to Nagpur for a scoop but did not tell us about the interview with Azad,” Pandey’s wife Babita, who reached Hyderabad this evening to receive the body, said. “We were aghast to see his photo in the newspapers this morning.”

An officer in Adilabad said Pandey was identified as a freelance journalist from the visiting cards found in his pocket. “He did not have any accreditation card from any state government.”

Andhra home minister Sabita Indra Reddy said: “How can one identify a journalist in pitch darkness on a remote hillock without any ID card?”

Pandey, a resident of Deventhal village, 23km from Pithoragarh town, had dabbled in Left politics as a college student. He later developed contacts among the rebels who would often sneak into Pithoragarh from across the Nepal border, an officer in Pithoragarh said. “He wrote articles on the rebels’ activities for various newspapers and periodicals.”

A journalist in Pithoragarh said: “Pandey has been in the profession for seven years. He was never afraid to express his ideology.”

The Pithoragarh SP later told a TV channel that Pandey was not a journalist any more because he had not written anything recently for any publication. Local sources, however, said Pandey had got articles published recently in minor journals. They said Pandey did not have official accreditation as a journalist but carried out assignments for media houses.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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3 Responses to “Man killed with Azad a journalist”

  1. Dr Neha 6 July 2010 at 6:57 PM #

    The Union Home Secretary Mr. G. K. Pillai has claimed that it would take 3-7 years to solve maoist problem. I wonder what are his plans. Is it like killing everyone residing in those affected villages in the name of “encounter” and later claim that the area is free of naxals?

    Killing journalists in fake encounter is nothing but a strategy of the state to keep “civilians” away from those villages so that no one comes to know of the truth!

  2. ajay kumar bairagi 17 July 2010 at 7:46 PM #

    Would you like to recall the Movie ” Main Azad Hun” Mr. Chidomborom? Yes i am taking about Mr Amitabh bachhan’s film. Now the Every Poor and Adibasi became a individual “Azad” whom will you kill?

    So the first work to solve the Maoist Problem is to stop and prevent the “Corroptions” 50% problem will vansih.


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