SIT report on Andhra Pradesh poll violence reveals faults in investigation; cites 124 arrests

The confidential report notes 33 total cases with 1,370 accused in poll-related violence across three faction-ridden districts.

ByBhaskar Basava

Published May 20, 2024 | 7:50 PMUpdatedMay 20, 2024 | 7:50 PM

The SIT submitted the report to the Andhra Pradesh DGP. (Screengrab)

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to probe the poll day and post-poll period violence in Andhra Pradesh submitted its report to state Director General of Police (DGP) Harish Gupta on Monday, 20 May.

Earlier, on 16 May, the Election Commission (EC) had asked DGP Gupta and Chief Secretary Jawahar Reddy to form the SIT and submit a report on the action taken against the perpetrators.

The 13-member SIT, headed by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vineet Brij Lal, handed over the “confidential” 150-page report detailing the violence that impacted law and order in the three faction-ridden districts of Andhra Pradesh: Palnadu, Tirupati, and Anantapur.

Even though the report detailed 33 cases involving a total of 1,370 accused, only a few have been apprehended so far. Out of the total cases, the most were from Palnadu (22) with 581 people named accused.

Meanwhile, Anantapur district recorded the highest number of accused, with 728 people named accused in seven cases from a single constituency — Tadipatri.

The remaining cases are from Tirupati district, with four cases involving 61 accused.

Related: CM Jagan and TDP chief  Naidu’s silence is loud 

‘Only a few apprehended’

According to a press release, the SIT identified 33 cases in the three districts (22 in Palnadu, seven in Anantapur, and four in Tirupati) based on the severity of the incidents of violence that occurred on poll day and post-poll day.

The SIT stated that its sub-teams camped in the concerned districts, reviewed the cases, examined the investigation records, visited the crime scenes, and interacted with the Investigating Officers (IOs).

“The aggrieved persons verified the physical evidence collected, reviewed witness statements, assessed whether appropriate sections of law were applied, checked if all incidents were registered as cases, and determined whether the accused were identified and arrested,” it noted.

It further highlighted that, in all 33 major cases, a total of 1,370 individuals were cited as accused in the FIRs. Among them, only 124 were arrested, and 94 were issued notices under Section 41-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The SIT urged the IOs to ensure the completion of the pending arrests of 1,152 individuals at the earliest.

Related: EC summons Andhra chief secretary, DGP 

Finds faults with Investigating Officers

The SIT further noted that many of these offences which occurred in the Assembly constituencies of Narasaraopeta, Macherla, Gurajala, Chandragiri, Tirupati and Tadipatri in these districts were extremely serious.

As large groups of “miscreants” brazenly participated in the violence and pelted stones indiscriminately, it could have potentially caused serious injury or even death, the SIT noted.

Noting several lapses in the investigation, the SIT gave strict instructions to the IOs for immediate compliance.

It also formed special teams at the district level to identify and apprehend the accused.

“IOs are instructed to file a memo in the concerned courts for adding appropriate sections of law to the existing charges. They are further instructed to collect digital evidence such as CCTV footage and videos, arrest the accused, and file the charge sheets at an early date,” the press release stated.

During the field visits, the SIT claimed that it received representations from various aggrieved persons and is verifying the facts for further action.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)