Case against red sander smugglers quashed

AP court sets free 287 from TN

Case against red sander smugglers quashed

 In an unprecedented decision, the 3rd Additional District Judge P V Rambabu in Tirupathi on Wednesday quashed the murder case on 287 red sander smugglers who were incarcerated in Chittoor district jail since 2013 for the murder of two Andhra Pradesh Forest Officers. 

All the 287 are from Tamil Nadu, while 64 other accused are from Chittoor who were already released on bail.

In all, 351 accused were presented before the court in connection with the gruesome murder.

The judge has asked the authorities to release all 287 accused if there are no other pending ongoing cases. The judge felt that the prosecution has failed to present evidence to prove that the 287 were involved in the murder of Deputy Range Officer L Sridhar, Assistant Beat Officer David Kumar Karunakar in Seshachalam forests on the foothills of Tirumala on December 15, 2013, while they were on patrol.

The prosecution has argued that Sridhar and Karunakar were ambushed by a group of 60-100 men armed with sickles, knives and daggers.

 The smugglers surrounded the forest patrol party and started pelting stones. Sridhar and Karunakar, who were leading the team, bore the brunt of the attack and suffered fatal head injuries. Another eight of the patrol party had escaped.

Post-mortem reports later have revealed that the two officers did not die on the spot, but were later axed by the smugglers. Sridhar, 49, had been working with the forest department for 22 years, while David, 47, had given 20 years of service. Sridhar is survived by his wife and two sons, while Karunakar is survived by his wife and two daughters.

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