Police killed 20 “alleged” sandalwood smugglers were shot dead by Andra Pradesh police today. The smugglers were from Tamil Nadu and people in the state took to the streets protesting the killings.

The government of Tamil Nadu has demanded an independent inquiry to determine how the men were killed. The police say they acted in self defense but human right groups want an immediate investigation.

Human rights groups raised the following questions:

Why does it appear no warning shots were fired in the air before police killed the woodcutters?

Why was there no apparent attempt to arrest the men before opening fire?

How is it that 13 of the 20 dead have bullet injuries above their waist, and most of the suspected smugglers were shot in the back?

The bodies were found in two groups a kilometre apart. Did two groups of policemen open fire?

Were the dead men actually smugglers or workers hired by a smuggling gang?

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