The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) that came to power in Uttar Pradesh promising to provide its junta a society free of goons in a state where goondagiri is style-statement has seemingly given the police an upper hand to control crime. And the mantra is neat-encounters.
A staggering 430 encounters in merely 6 months, which translates close to 1 encounter every 12 hours in last 180 days, does point towards a very disturbing trend.
While presenting his half yearly performa as chief minister, Adityanath revealed shocking details about how and to what extent the state police are going to better the law-and-order situations. He also announced that 193 encounters were carried out in Meerut alone, while 84 in Agra and 60 in Bareilly, which according to to him is the parameter of 'good governance.'
"Today, the people are secure and safe. The police used to be scared that if we act against criminals, we will be acted against. We have changed that. The police is leading from the front.
"The police have been working successfully... 430 encounters with notorious criminals took place during this period in which 17 criminals were killed and 1,106 arrested, besides properties of 69 criminals were confiscated," he said.
While 88 jawans were injured in encounters, a sub- inspector died in the course of duty.
The government reportedly has also allowed district police chiefs to announce rewards of up to Rs. 1 lakh for a team that carries out an encounter -- which runs afoul of the National Human Rights' Commission's (NHRC) observations:
"No out-of-turn promotion or instant gallantary rewards shall be bestowed on the concerned officers soon after the occurrence , It must be ensured that such awards are given/recommneded only when the gallantary of the concerned officer is established beyond doubt."
Till now encounter operations in Uttar Pradesh have caused 17 deaths. The police, however, claim their motive is not to gun down the fugitives but to restore law and order in the state. "We don't want to injure or kill anyone. The effort is to arrest. But if criminals fire at us, we have to fire back," a senior cop was reported as saying to the NDTV who has led several such operations.
Encounters are mostly police way of tackling the frustratingly slow-moving and inefficient criminal justice system in the country. But what is disturbing is the state’s open lure of cash rewards to officers who kill criminals, which also tells the officers that they can kill with impunity without facing the consequences.
The stand taken by police in all encounter cases is strikingly clichéd -- the deceased persons, on sighting the police, opened fire at them with a view to killing them and were, therefore, guilty of the offence of attempt to murder under Section 307 IPC. The police justify their firing and killing as done in exercise of their right of self-defence.
Another provision under which the police officer justifies the causing of death of another person, is Section 46 of the Criminal Procedure Code. “This provision authorises the police to use force, extending up to the causing of death, as may be necessary to arrest the person accused of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life”.
The opposition party, who lost the power in the state mainly over lack of law and order, hasquestioned what seems to be a "dangerous trend". It said encounters cannot be used as a "yardstick to maintain law and order in UP".