The body of Hemchandra Pandey, a freelance journalist killed along with Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad in an alleged gunfight with police, was late Tuesday brought to New Delhi.
His body was brought to the capital by his wife Babita, his brother and a few human rights activists from Andhra Pradesh. Babita, who says that her husband was a freelance journalist and not a Maoist, was handed over the body by the police at Bellampally in Adilabad district.
'The body will be taken to 7 Jantar Mantar, the office of prominent religious and social reformer Swami Agnivesh, where last respects will be paid Wednesday before he is cremated,' Ashish Gupta, a freelance journalist and president of Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, told IANS.
'Earlier we wanted to donate the body to AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), but the hospital administration refused to take the body as four-five days have passed after the postmortem was conducted. They said the body will not be of any use now,' Gupta said.
Babita denied police claims that Pandey was a Maoist and alleged that police killed him in a staged shootout after arresting him along with Azad in Nagpur. She demanded a thorough probe into the killing.
She met Andhra Pradesh Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy, who ordered a probe into Pandey's identity.
A statement purportedly sent by the outlawed Communist Party of India-Masoit (CPI-Maoist) to some newspapers Sunday identified Pandey as a Maoist. However, a Maoist leader clarified that no such statement was issued.
CPI-Maoist politburo member and spokesman Azad and Pandey were Friday killed in the forests of Adilabad district bordering Maharashtra.
Police said they were killed in a three-hour long gunfight but Maoists and rights activists allege that it was a staged shootout.
Hailing from Uttarakhand, Pandey was based in Delhi and was reportedly working for some Hindi dailies.