Opposing the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s ‘thok do’ (shoot ‘em) policy, several family members of the victims of encounters have alleged that the encounters are “fake”.
Many families have claimed that these “police attacks” are targeting mostly Muslims and Dalits.
On October 17, a youth named Sheman Khan (20) alias Meetha was shot during an “encounter” by the police in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut district. He was accused of robbing a person and stealing his motorcycle and mobile phone. However, when Khan produced the bill and insurance papers of the bike, the police claimed that the FIR had a “clerical error”, according to a report in The Hindu.
Station House Officer of Kankar Khera police station Bijendra Singh Rana was quoted as saying, “We meant to write that Sheman and his associate robbed the mobile phone while riding the motorbike.” The FIR, however, mentions details of the motorbike, including chasis number and engine number, added the report.
Khan has alleged that he was shot in the stomach first, after his motorbike was hit from the side; he was then taken to a field in Kankar Khera where he was allegedly shot again twice.
Along with several human rights organisations, Khan and his family have approached the court and state CM Adityanath for a fair inquiry.
Seman, a resident of Teharki village of Sardhana, who installs mobile towers, had gone out on October 17 to distribute his sister’s wedding cards with his cousin Shadab. The police caught him, as he was riding a new KTM bike. The KTM bike, which the police initially claimed was looted, is reported to have been bought by Sheman to give to his sister’s husabnd for their wedding.
Out of the three bullets shot at him, one had reportedly pierced through his lung and was lodged in his spine due to which he was referred to All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi for treatment. He was hospitalised for around a month and has returned home with a partially paralysed body.
After the matter came to light, the role of the cops involved in the encounter is being questioned. After Khan’s family approached higher authorities in Lucknow, an inquiry is in progress.
Sheman’s father Nisar accused the cops of levelling false charges against him. “With the help of human rights organisations, we have approached high-rank police officials to seek justice,” Nisar told NewsClick. The family also said that not a single case had been registered against Sheman before this and the motorcycle that was seized by the cops was bought for his sister’s marriage.
Sheman told NewsClick, “I was returning from Muzaffarnagar after distributing the invitations for my sister’s wedding along with my cousin on October 17. On the way, I needed petrol for my bike. After filling it, I moved. Soon after I started, one Scorpio (a four-wheeler) knocked me. I fell off my bike and then one of the policemen shot a bullet at me. They took me forcibly in their car to a jungle nearby in Kankar Khera, and shot at me another two bullets. By this time, there were four people. Then, they took me to the police station and handed me a gun and live bullets in order to frame me as a deadly criminal. They clicked photos of mine and made videos.”
He alleged, “While they carried me to the police station in their car, one of the officers who was sitting on the front seat spoke to someone over the phone. He said, 'Daawat ka jugaad karlo, kaam ho gaya' (Arrange for a party, our target has been achieved). I was, later taken to Pyare Lal District Hospital where the doctor immediately referred me to AIIMS, Delhi. They, after some time, handed me to my family saying that he is free from all the charges. You may take him wherever you want.”
He further questioned that if he was guilty indeed—enough to receive three bullets—why he was freed immediately. “Is life of a human so cheap here?” asked Sheman as his voice quivered.
“Had my cousin not been with me that day, I would have been killed mercilessly in the name of so-called encounter,” he told NewsClick.
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh police have been on an encounter spree ever since the BJP-led government came to power in the state in 2017. Of the over 80 criminals killed in the last two years, half have died in encounters in Meerut zone—which tops the chart in the encounter tally.
This encounter is third such incident within a month where the family members allege that it is fake and a ‘targeted’ killing.