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New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh stands second across the country in the number of people killed in alleged fake encounters carried out by the police. Of the total 211 complaints of fake encounters across India filed with the National Commission for Human Rights (NHRC) between January 1, 2015 and March 20, 2019, as many as 39 complaints were lodged in Uttar Pradesh.
Of the 211 country-wide complaints that the commission received within the period, 57 were from Andhra Pradesh -- which topped the list of complaints of fake encounters.
This revelation was made by the human rights watchdog in response to queries filed under the Right to Information Act (RTI) by Agra-based activist Naresh Paras, who sought to know the details of encounter cases across the country.
In reply to another question regarding compensation, NHRC said in 25 cases of alleged fake encounters across the country, it recommended different state governments to give a compensation of Rs 1.7 crore to the victims' families, considering that the human rights of the victims had been violated.
Of the 25 cases in which the compensations were recommended, six cases – second-highest across the country- are from Uttar Pradesh. Dependents of deceased Salim from Mathua, Kuldeep Singh from Bulandshahr and Shakya from Badaun got a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each. The family members – Shahin Jahan, Kureasha Begum and Shama Parveen – of three victims from Lucknow were also recommended to be compensated with Rs 5 lakh each.
Of the total 39 complaints about alleged fake encounters in Uttar Pradesh, the NHRC said it disposed of 22 cases and 17 are pending. It added that 73 cases were disposed of after official reports were submitted and the rest 99 complaints were still pending with the commission.
To a question seeking information about the genuineness of the encounters, the commission clarified that it does not ascertain if a case is fake or genuine. It only looks into cases where human rights of individuals have been violated.
“It is wrong to kill people in fake encounters. The human rights of people must not be infringed upon. Generally, personal and old scores are settled with such encounters. And, therefore, considering these as prima facie extra-judicial killings, such cases must be probed without any bias. The commission’s reply says that it has recommended a compensation of around Rs 1.76 crore to victims’ families across the country. The amount will be given from the public exchequer. The erring officials must be held accountable and the amount should be recovered from them,” the RTI activist – Paras – told Newsclick.
The commission – in over five years – received a total of 57 complaints of alleged fake encounters from Andhra Pradesh, 39 from Uttar Pradesh, eight from Assam, three from Bihar, 10 from Chhattisgarh, six from Delhi, nine from Haryana, one from Jammu and Kashmir, 13 from Jharkhand, three from Karnataka, three from Kerala, six from Madhya Pradesh, three from Maharashtra, one from Manipur, four from Meghalaya, 22 from Odisha, six from Punjab, three from Rajasthan, seven from Tamil Nadu, four from Telangana, one from Uttarakhand and one from West Bengal.
The districts of Uttar Pradesh from where the complaints of ‘fake encounters’ were lodged include Ghaziabad, Hapur, Bulandshahr, Gautam Budh Nagar, Bagpat, Muzaffarnagar, Mathura, Kasganj, Lucknow, Pilibhit, Gorakhpur, Amroha, Meerut, Aligarh, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Badaun and Farrukhabad.
“Had encounters created fear among criminals, the condition of law and order in the state could have been something else. Encouraging gun culture in the police department will incite fear amongst civilians, not criminals and it will also result in bringing a bad image of the police department,” Vikram Singh, former DGP of the Uttar Pradesh police, told Newsclick.
The Supreme Court in January this year had issued a notice to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath-led government, observing that encounters against alleged criminals in the state were a “very serious matter” and required a detailed hearing. The observation came on a petition – seeking a court-monitored inquiry into the alleged extra-judicial killings – filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and Citizens Against Hate.
The NHRC in 2018 had also directed the chief secretary and the director general of police (DGP) of the state to “submit all the requisite reports to the Commission in 23 cases mentioned in a fact-finding report prepared by the Citizens Against Hate” and ordered its own director general (investigations) to constitute a team to probe all cases.
United Nations officials, too, have written to the Indian government with information about 15 cases of what could be extra-judicial killings by the Uttar Pradesh police. They have also taken note of 59 cases of possible fake encounters.
The United Nations Human Rights officials in India also intervened in the matter, saying that they are “extremely concerned”. The officials from the Office of the High Commissioner for United Nations Human Rights (OHCHR) wrote to the government last year with information about 15 cases of what could be extra-judicial killings by the Uttar Pradesh police. They also took note of 59 cases of possible fake encounters.
(With inputs from Saurabh Sharma)