From inviting the media to witness a “live encounter”, to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath declaring in a television interview in June 2017 that criminal would be dealt with firmly, and adding with aplomb that “Agar apradh karenge toh thok diye jayenge” (If they commit crimes, they will be hit), the BJP-led state government has now decided to showcase the over 3,000 encounters as one of its “achievements” in the first 16 months of its rule.
Ahead of Republic Day on January 26, the Yogi government has sent a communique to all district magistrates, asking them to publicise over 3,200 encounters and 79 killings as “achievement” of the first 16 months of its governance, the Indian Express reported.
Sent to all district magistrates by state Chief Secretary Anup Chandra Pandey, along with a letter, the communique has state-wide data of encounters, arrests and killings, along with other steps taken by the government for farmer welfare, among other things.
As per the letter, cited by the report, UP recorded 3,026 encounters till July 2018 in which 69 criminals were killed, 7,043 criminals were arrested, and 838 criminals sustained injuries.
According to the official figures mentioned in the letter, 11,981 criminals had their bail cancelled and surrendered in courts between July 2017 to July 2018. The letter further adds that the Special Task Force (STF) gunned down nine other criminals in encounters, besides arresting 139 others.
Recently, the Supreme Court had said that the encounter killings in UP needed “serious consideration” and had set February 12 as the date for further examine the details and hear the matter. The court also issued a notice to the UP government on a public interest litigation, seeking a court-monitored probe into the encounter killings, ANI had reported.
News portal, The Wire, had investigated some of the encounter killings in UP and had visited 14 families. The testimonies and evidence countered the police version of “encounters”, with many families alleging that the deaths were “pre-planned,” it reported.
Newsclick had reported in October last year that as per data released by the UP government in March, the highest numbers of encounters (449) were reported from Meerut, followed by the Agra zone which had 210 encounters. Third on the list was the Bareilly zone with 196 encounters and then the leather city of Kanpur which has 91 case of shootouts. The least number of police ‘encounters’ were reported from the Chief Minister’s home turf, Gorakhpur.
Recently, four human rights experts belonging to the United Nations had also expressed “alarm” about the allegations of extra-judicial killings by the police in UP.