Monday, February 26, 2018

Extra-judicial killings? 13 out of 14 UP encounter deaths examined were not in police's "most wanted" list: Report

By Our Representative
Even as the Yogi Adityanath government has been claiming a huge success in what it calls ‘swacch badmash abhiyan’ (movement to cleanse criminals), a comprehensive report for the based on spot inquiry in the state's "most successful" four districts reveals that, of the 13 cases it examined, "none of those killed ever appeared on the ‘most wanted list’ put out by the IG crime office of the UP police."
According to the UP government, by January 2018, the police had conducted 1,038 encounters. Of these, 32 were killed and 238 injured. Four police personnel also lost their lives. A significant proportion of those killed in these encounters are from four districts of western UP, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur and Baghpat, the districts examined in the report, published in the news portal "The Wire".
Pointing out that the examination was conducted "against the backdrop of allegations that some of these ‘encounters’ might actually be extrajudicial custodial killings", the writer, Neha Dixit, in an article based on her field-based investigation for the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), says that it's conclusions are based on meetings with the families of 14 of those killed and interviews with "a range of police and official sources familiar with the encounters."
Insisting that "the facts that emerged confirm the darkest suspicions around these killings", the report says, "Out of the 14 cases, 11 had the same pattern. The victims were in the age group of 17 to 40. They were all undertrials in a number of cases. Just before each encounter, the police received a tip off about their location. They are either on a bike or a car."
"As soon as the police tries to stop them on the road, they start firing. In retaliatory fire, the accused receive bullet injuries and are declared dead on arrival at the hospital. The police have recovered a 32 bore pistol and live cartridges in most cases", report says, underlining, "Thirteen out of the 14 families contend that the police announced that the dead were ‘wanted’ and had a financial reward on them only after the encounter."
The 14 persons examined in report
Even as talking to each of the families in person, the report quotes SR Darapuri, a former top cop of UP and now a human rights activist, as saying that the strategy is to "specifically" immobilise the Muslim community "by killing young Muslim boys", even as implicating Dalits and OBCs in "criminal cases." He wonders, "Why is the police not equally active in checking crimes against Muslims, Dalits and OBCs?”
According to the report, "In ten months, the Adityanath government has received nine notices from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on a range of issues, including a fake encounter, the molestation of women and the death of children at a hospital in Gorakhpur." On November 22, 2017, citing a statement by Adityanath that “criminals will be jailed or killed in encounters”, the NHRC issued notice to the UP chief secretary "calling for a detailed report in the matter".
The NHRC said, “[Even] if the law and order situation is grave, the state cannot resort to such mechanism, which may result in the extra judicial killings of the alleged criminals. It is not good for a civilised society to develop an atmosphere of fear, emerging out of certain policies adopted by the State, which may result into violation of their right to life and equality before law.”
"The UP chief secretary has been asked to submit a detailed report within six weeks. The NHRC is yet to receive a response", the report says, quoting Supreme Court lawyer Rebecca John, a counsel in the infamous Hashimpura case, “Even 30 years since the Hashimpura case, there is no result because of the complete abdication of responsibility of the court, investigating agencies and civil society. The police had complete impunity earlier and they continue to have this in 2018."
The report says, " According to an RTI query, 1,782 cases of fake encounters were registered in India between 2000 and 2017", adding, NHRC data suggest, Uttar Pradesh accounted for an alarming 44.55% (794 cases) of encounter cases registered across all states."
"While The NHRC does not specify the number of allegations proven to be true but recommended Rs 9.47 crore rupees as compensation in 160 cases from UP. These cases are almost half of the total 314 cases nationwide in which it recommended compensation", it adds.

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