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UP encounters: Not only people are being killed with impunity, killings are being glorified, supported by authorities

By Sheshu Babu*
In Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand , Odisha or North Eastern states encounters are common, but in Utter Pradesh, the UP government and its police have taken a step further by allowing to 'film' of an encounter live. A few journalists were asked by cops if they were interested in 'watching and filming a real encounter' in Machua village under Harduagunj police station limits.
The news spread like wildfire, and within 15 minutes, a large number of local and national media lined up at the site 25 km from the district headquarters. On their arrival, journalists saw a team of policemen, some of them armed with bulletproof jackets, a few others in their uniforms, and a few even in T-shirts, initially corner and then gun down two men -- Mustakim and Naushad -- "armed and hiding" in an abandoned irrigation department building.
Among others, a Times of India photojournalist was part of the group that witnessed what must be India's first encounter, where media persons were invited.
According to information released by the UP police, there a were 1,142 encounters in UP between March 20, 2017 and January 31, 2018 . The killing of Vivek Tiwari, a 38-year-old salesman of Apple gadgets, who was killed at close range by an on-duty policeman, comes as the latest in the multiple cases of encounters since Yogi Adityanath took over as UP chief minister in 2017.
In fact, Utter Pradesh has recorded at least 1,500 encounters since January 2017 since the right-wing took office. In these 66 criminals are said to have been killed.
Not only people are being killed with impunity, the killings are being glorified and supported by the authorities. The chief minister declared last February in the state assembly that encounters would not stop. Speaking in the zero hour, he accused the opposition of supporting criminals, adding the crackdown would continue.
After assuming the post of chief minister, Adityanath has given police full freedom to deal with rising crime. The police launched "operation clean". The government evej allowed district police chiefs to announce reward of Rs1 lakh to the team that carries out an encounter. Thus, money is also playing it's part in rise of encounter killings.
As a journalist, Neena Vyas, opined, the nexus between police officials and the ruling authorities cannot be ruled out. ("Media Bol: Police Encounters in UP and Surgical Strike Celebrations", October 1, 2018, thewire.in).
On September 2, 2017, a day after the wanted criminal Sunil Sharma succumbed to injuries, sustained in an encounter on the outskirts of Lucknow, public relations officer Rahul Srivastav tweeted "#uppolice encounter express halts in the capital ...miles to go" . The tweet was accompanied by a news clipping of the encounter. This indicates the brazenness with which police have been implementing encounter killings.
Despite Supreme Court intervention, seeking report on the encounters, the killing spree continues. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by People's Union for Civil Librrties (PUCL stated that over 1,100 encounters had taken place last year. Till now, very little has been done to uphold human rights.
The impunity with which encounters are taking place endorsed by the state chief minister on several occasions, as PUCL rightly observed, is a cause of concern. Those who are being attacked are Muslims and Dalits. They have little legal help. The relatives of these people are being harassed.
The situation may soon turn graver unless drastic steps are taken to stop such inhuman killings without proper investigation and fair trial.
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*The writer from anywhere and everywhere, supports human rights and feels that encounters are not a solution to socio-economic problems

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