India: Widow and Delhi rights group condemn police efforts to justify murder of journalist Hem Pandey

Hem Pandey after his execution at point blank range by Andhra Pradesh police

Press Statement, 14 Nov 20109

The Andhra Police is doing all sorts of malicious propaganda to desperately hide the fact that they had killed my husband Hem Chandra Pandey in a fake encounter.  Instead of doing a judicial probe in the matter they are regularly trying to harass me in various ways.  The police without taking my permission raided our house in Shatri Nagar and now they are showing ‘the seizure of objectionable things’ from the house. The claim by Andhra Police that I had not disclosed the address of my house is completely bogus. Both my address as well as my phone number was with the police, yet they did not consider it necessary to inform me before barging into my house.

I used to stay in A-96 Shastri Nagar with my husband Hem Chandra Pandey.  He was a progressive journalist. He was deeply interested in literature and politics. He had in his collections many books ranging from that by Maxim Gorky to the progressive poet of Uttarakhand, Girda.

I want to categorically ask, is studying Marxism any kind of crime?  I have no knowledge of the so-called objectionable documents that the police are claiming to have seized from my house.  My husband owned a desktop computer but never had a laptop.  He did not own any thing like a fax machine as well. The claim that there were ‘secret documents’ in my house is completely baseless. I strongly feel the police are making these stories up in order to divert the demand for a judicial probe in Hem’s killing. I would like to ask why the government is constantly avoiding the judicial enquiry.

I was utterly depressed after the murder of my husband and hence avoided going to the Shastri Nagar residence. I stayed for some days in Haldwani with my mother-in-law and in Pithorgarh with my mother.  After my landlady called I had informed her that I will come and pay the rent once I get back to Delhi. I also categorically asked her to keep my luggage with her, in case she wants to vacate the room and rent it out again. Had there been ‘objectionable things’ in my house, I could have never said such a thing.

I simply can’t understand what the police want to achieve by spreading such rumours? I strongly suspect they are doing all this to ‘legitimise’ the murder of my husband. I would like to appeal to all media persons not to believe in such baseless rumours spread by the Andhra Police and co-operate in getting the murderers of my husband booked under law.

Binita Pandey

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Justifying The Murder Of Hem Chandra Pandey

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Delhi

Press Release, 15th Nov 2010

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) considers the raid and alleged recovery of “banned literature” and correspondence from Babita Pandey’s rented accommodation in New Delhi by the Andhra Pradesh State Intelligence Bureau (APSIB) to be an attempt at justifying the cold blooded killing of her husband Hem Chandra Pandey and Cherukuri Rajkumar @ Azad. By showing him to be member of a banned organization, the APSIB and its political bosses want to suggest that Hem Chandra Pandey’s alleged membership of a banned organisation somehow justifies his execution.

PUDR wishes to draw attention to the fact that investigations by the civil liberties groups as well as by the media have documented credible evidence which shows that the two deceased were picked up and annihilated. The so called forensic report put out by APSIB has not been able to refute the fact that Azad and Hem C. Pandey were shot from close range and that entry and exit wounds on the deceased as well as the trajectory of the bullet entering from top and exiting lower down is impossible if the two deceased were on top of the hill and the AP police force fired from below. Instead of ordering a judicial inquiry the authorities are letting APSIB divert attention from a heinous crime to show that Hem Chandra Pandey was a member of the CPI(Maoist). As though membership of a banned organization justified extra-judicial execution of Hem Chandra Pandey and Azad.

It is a documented fact Hem Chandra Pandey earned his livelihood as a journalist. Whether he was or he was not a member of a banned organization is inconsequential. Because the Indian Constitution nowhere allows execution of a person who is, or is suspected to be, member of a banned organization. Unlawful Activities Prevention Act nowhere says that punishment for being member of a banned organization is summary killing.

Moreover, it is an absurdity that by summarily proscribing an organization, the authorities criminalise what is in reality, and under Indian Constitution, legitimate activities and expression. The incongruity of banning CPI(Maoist) and persecuting those said to be its members, becomes evident also from the fact that Hindutva terrorists remain scot free. RSS is allowed to preach divisive and venomous politics, propagate filth as so eloquently brought out by the former Sanghsanchalak Sudershan, and carry out acts of murderous violence against civilians.

We, therefore, urge the Union Home Ministry, which has often proclaimed the ministry’s commitment to the rule of law, to desist from allowing APSIB to excuse its extra-judicial killing by raiding the house of the deceased in her absence and splashing alleged recoveries to the media. It is essential to it persuades the AP government to order a high powered judicial inquiry into the ‘encounter’ which took place on July 2, 2010.

Asish Gupta and Moushumi Basu

Secretaries PUDR

 

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