In states like 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 the ‘ filming’ of encounters live. Few journalists were asked by cops if they are interested in ‘ watching and filming a real encounter’ in Machua village under Harduagunj police station limits. (UP cops call media to watch and film ‘ real encounter’ , then gun down 2 men, Anuja Jaiswal, updated September 21, 2018, timesofindia.indiatimes.com). The news spread like wildfire and within 15 minutes, a large number of local and national journalist lined up at the site 25 Kms from the district headquarters. On their arrival, the scribes saw a team of polecien some of them armed with bulletproof jackets, a few others in their uniforms and a few even in Tshirts initially corner and then gun down two men – Mustakim and Naushad – ‘ armed and hiding’ in an abandoned irrigation Department building. A TOI 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 Utter Pradesh police , there a were 1,142 encounters in UP between 20 March 2017 and 31 January 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 a latest in multiple case of encounters since UP CM took office in 2017. ( Apple’s exec’s murder: Ex-top cops say Lack of Training led to shooting: .., Oct 1, 2018, firstpost.com). Utter Pradesh has recorded at least 1,500 encounters since january, 2017 since rightwing took office and 66 criminals were killed .
Not only people are being killed with impunity, the killings are being glorified and supported by the authorities. The CM declared last February in state assembly that encounters would not stop. Speaking in the zero hour, he accused the opposition of supporting criminals and the crackdown would continue. After assuming the post of chief minister, he has given police full freedom to deal with rising crine. The police launched ‘ operation clean.’ ( Oct 1, 2018, first post.com). The government also allowed district police chiefs to announce reward of RS. 1 lakh to the team that carries encounter. ( 1 encounter every 12 hours: UP Cops Have new Strategy for Crime Control, updated September 22, 2017, ndtv.com) . Thus, money is also playing it’s part in rise of encounter killings. As journalist Neena Vyas opined, the Nexus between police officials and ruling authorities cannot be ruled out. ( Media Bol : police encounters in UP and Surgical Strike Celebrations, 1 October 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. ( Ramendra Singh , updated September 16, 2017, Indian Express.com). This indicates the brazenness with which police have been implementing encounter killings.
Human rights trampled
Despite SC intervention and seeking report on the encounters, the killing spree continues. ( SC seeks reply from UP govt on plea demanding probe into encounter killings, Ananthakrishnan G, updated July 3, 2018, Indianexpress.com). The PIL filed by PUCL stated that over 1100 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 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.
The writer from anywhere and everywhere supports human rights and feels that encounters are not the solution to socio- economic problems