In its report, the team headed by National Commission for Scheduled Tribes Vice Chairperson Ravi Thakur -- which visited the site of the incident -- observed that the crime committed by those who were killed by Andhra Pradesh police was that of theft of timber.
    
"It is not necessary to take the extreme step of murdering these people for the crime they have committed. The stolen wood could have been retrieved from them rather than killing them as life is more precious than sandalwood," the report said while recommending a CBI probe into the matter.

The Special Task Force (STF) had claimed that the April 7 operation in the Seshachalam hill ranges in Chittoor district of AP was undertaken as part of a crackdown on the smuggling of red sanders.
    
The NCST team has also charged that the proper protocol was not followed by the STF team as it did not inform the relevant authorities about their presence in the area.
    
"The site of incident is a place near to the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and falls in the constituency of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. On account of this, more alertness should have been kept in handling cases of this nature and Tamil Nadu police should also have been taken into confidence," the report added.
    
The NCST team noted that 13 of the deceased belonged to the Scheduled Tribes and also claimed that all of them were killed at one spot.
    
"During the visit to the incident site, I could not find even a single sandalwood tree in the locality. The area is not a forest area, only small bushes are seen here and there.
    
"It has been reported that nine people were killed in one spot and 11 others at another spot. But I could see that all of them were killed in one spot," Thakur said in his report.The report also said that there is no clarity as to from whom "instructions" for movement to the spot were received and who ordered the firing.

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