Lawless Bounty Killers of Yogi: 1,241 Encounters in 11 Months and Counting

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Yogi’s cops are making a killing! They shoot before they ask. They don’t take prisoners. Encounters, they are ‘final’. No room for redressal. Before or after. They are a mark of lawlessness. Disorder. Anarchy. Strangely, the Supreme Court has not issued any suo moto notice. A report, for Different Truths. 

If in Uttar Pradesh, take care. There are people there with the Yogi-given licence to kill. Desi James Bonds. Bounty Hunters. Most of them on the loose in UP’s Wild West – Shamli, Muzaffarpur, Saharanpur, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Baghpat, Kairana, Greater Noida, Noida – Right next door!

Yogi’s cops are making a killing! They shoot before they ask. They don’t take prisoners. Encounters, they are ‘final’. No room for redressal. Before or after. They are a mark of lawlessness. Disorder. Anarchy. What are UP’s criminal lawyers doing? Don’t they know they are losing business – walking, talking clients! And the Supreme Court? No suo moto notice.

Yogi Adityanath, before he became all-powerful Uttar Pradesh CM when he was Member of Parliament, stood in the Lok Sabha and wept like a baby, tearfully seeking the Chair’s protection from the “trigger-happy UP Police”. “They will kill me,” he sobbed. BJP MPs, sitting right and left of him, ran out of kerchiefs to dry his tear-stained face.

That was then. This is now: 1241 encounters of alleged gangsters in 11 months of Yogi-Raj – four a day on average, 41 killed and counting.

Yogi’s “trigger-happy police” have put the fear of death in some of the toughest hombres in Uttar Pradesh. And these toughies, with not a single coward-bone in them, cannot go to Parliament and beg for protection.

As it happens, Yogi’s police are only 15 short of Ab Tak Chappan, Nana Patekar’s encounter-flick! But they have tasted blood. That is what’s got those not yet killed to queue up outside UP police stations and beg to be “arrested” and “jailed”, promise to live “straight lives”, not ever do “Chori-chakari”, “Khoon-kharaba”, “dadagiri”. Television images show hardened criminals holding up printed words on cardboard to be given a “chance to live!”

UP Police encounters follow a pattern. The police are on the criminal’s tail. He doesn’t know he’s marked for death. He has served his sentence and is back home. His family tells him not to step outdoors. Warns him his name might be in the “most wanted list” with every police station. But a man gets bored. His friends might call. He has family engagements he cannot avoid. He disregards the advice. He steps outdoors. He is dead meat.

It happened to Furqan on October 23, 2017. He stepped out to “buy apples”. The Muzaffarnagar police said he was on a motorbike with a couple of accomplices. They were challenged during a routine check. In the ensuing gunfight, Furqan was shot dead. His accomplices escaped. It is a mystery but in most of the encounters, there are always “accomplices” who get away clean!

Furqan had 30-plus criminal cases against him and he carried a price/prize on his head. Bounties range from Rs 25,000 to Rs 5,00,000, depending on the ranks of police officers in the teams which carry out the encounter.

Many encounters took place in sugarcane fields. In some cases media were invited, giving rise to the suspicion that the encounters were ‘orchestrated’.

In several cases, families complained that victims were charged with a crime for which previous encounters of other criminals had taken place. Quite a few of those encountered were undertrials out on bail. Today, the fear is such that prisoners in UP’s jails even after getting bail refuse to leave the “safety” of the jail!

Yogi Adityanath’s drive to eliminate criminals from UP is popularly known as ‘Swacch Badmash Abhiyan’. Whoever christened it must have grown up on a diet of gallows humour. But the encounters are not jokes. They are grotesque depictions of gross execution of power on people who never got much in terms of ‘life-choices’ – school dropouts who had strayed into crime, jailed and bailed, to be turned into “fodder for encounters”.

In at least in one Noida case, the “wrong Sumit” was picked up and shot dead, most shockingly after a stunned family came to somehow learn that “their boy” awaited an encounter death, and terrified, in last-hour desperate moves, the family knocked on every door including the NHRC, but all they got at the end of the day, was a shot-up body.

In a couple of cases, criminals were killed while they were said to be driving a car and riding a motorbike. The mothers swore their sons never knew how to drive a car or ride a motorbike. In another case, a “mental wreck of a man”, who used to talk to himself and spend the day at the village chaupal, was picked up by the police and the next day, the bullet-riddled body of a “dreaded gangster” was handed over to the family. His father now says if this is how Uttar Pradesh will become crime-free, then “Good luck Mr. Yogi, you’re a Genius!”   

Yogi apparently is in no doubt that encounters count. Speaking in the State Legislative Council on February 15 this year, he said, “In 1,200 encounters, more than 40 criminals have been killed and this trend will not stop.” The chief minister also has his favourite ‘encounter specialist’, the Superintendent of Police of Shamli district – Ajay Pal Sharma. On August 2, 2017, three days after a pair of “dreaded criminals” were encounter-killed, Ajay Pal Sharma was taken through the streets of Shamli district in a flower-laden, silver-washed, chariot. The same evening, Yogi Adityanath congratulated Sharma via “video conferencing”, and urged other police officers to follow in Sharma’s path.

It is another matter that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued several notices to the Uttar Pradesh government, asking for a detailed report on encounter killings. “Even if the law and order situation is grave, the state cannot resort to such mechanism, which may result in extra-judicial killings of the alleged criminals. It is not good for a civilised society to develop an atmosphere of fear, emerging out of certain policies adopted by the State, which may result into (sic) violation of their right to life and equality before the law,” the NHRC said.

But is there evidence to prove that even one encounter was set-up, a planned extra-judicial killing? According to published reports, strong suspicions exist, which linger on and won’t go. In an interview to a national TV news channel in June last year, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, “If they commit crimes, they will be knocked off.”

The UP CM probably had no inkling of a Supreme Court ruling dating back to 2012. “It is not the duty of the police officers to kill the accused merely because he is a dreaded criminal…the police have to arrest the accused and put them on trial,” the court said, adding that such killings were not recognised as legal in India’s criminal administration system. “They amount to State-sponsored terrorism.”

Yogi Adityanath should get a copy of the ruling and read it, learn it by heart. He should also present a copy to SP Ajay Pal Sharma. The ‘encounter specialist’ needs a change of heart.

Sushil Kutty 
©IPA Service 

Photo from the Internet

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