New Delhi, May 29 : The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday recommended a CBI probe into the Chittoor encounter case in which 20 alleged smugglers of red sanders from Tamil Nadu were shot dead by policemen and forest guards. The NHRC also said that Rs.5 lakh interim relief should be given to the families of each of those killed in the encounter. It asked for submission of an action-taken report to the Commission within four weeks.

The alleged encounter by a Special Task Force (STF) comprising police and forest officials in Sheshachalam forest in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh took place on April 7. “The government of India and the government of Andhra Pradesh shall get the case investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation after completion of necessary formalities and shall submit an action-taken report to the Commission within four weeks,” said an NHRC statement here.

“The government of Andhra Pradesh shall pay Rs.5 lakh as immediate interim relief to the dependents of each of the 20 persons killed,” it added. The commission also asked the Tamil Nadu DGP to provide adequate protection to the witnesses in the case. It asked the chief secretary and the Andhra Pradesh DGP to appear in person before the commission on June 9.

“There are good grounds to think that there was a serious violation of human rights of the persons killed and since the victims were very poor and their families are suffering under deprivation, the families cannot be allowed to starve and die (while) waiting for the final outcome of the inquiry by the NHRC or investigation by an unbiased investigating agency,” the statement said.