Assam Police killed 51 people since May last year, govt tells HC

Guwahati, Jun 21, 2022, IANS

The Assam Police have killed 51 people and injured 139 since May last year, the state government told the Gauhati High Court in an affidavit, officials said on Tuesday.

The affidavit said "as far records, there have been 51 numbers of death and 193 numbers of injuries caused due to police action or during police custody since May 2021 till May 31 this year."

The Assam government's Home Department following a direction from the Gauhati High Court filed the affidavit in connection with a Public Interest Litigation on fake encounters that came up for hearing in the court on Monday. Delhi-based lawyer and activist, Arif Jwadder filed the PIL.

The case will be heard again on July 29 as the judges would study the affidavit carefully.

Advocate General Devajit Saikia appeared for the Assam government while Jwadder appeared virtually. Jwadder in the PIL demanded monetary compensation for the families of the victims after due verification.

The PIL has sought the High Court's intervention to register FIRs on the alleged "fake encounters" and a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation or a Special Investigation Team or by a police team from another state under the supervision of the High Court.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma after assuming office on May 10 last year announced a crackdown on militants, drug dealers, smugglers, murderers, cattle lifters and those accused of rape and crimes against women. Of the 51 people, some were killed in custody, some while 'trying to escape after snatching a policeman's firearm' while several others were shot in the leg. A few accused died "after being hit by police vehicles" while going to verify their (accused) statement at the crime spot.

Jwadder earlier lodged a similar complaint about these alleged 'fake encounters' with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). "All the victims were unarmed and handcuffed at the time of the encounter. Those people who have been killed or injured were not dreaded criminals," he said.

"Above all, this petition raises the issue of violation of the rule of law and equality before law and equal protection of laws. Police personnel do not have a licence to kill, the whole idea of the CrPC is to apprehend criminals and bring them to justice, not to kill them," the lawyer-turned-activist said in his PIL.

Jwadder said that the NHRC had earlier taken cognizance of his complaint and asked for an action taken report (ATR) from the Assam Police. All the opposition political parties, including the Congress, criticised the BJP government for the "killing and injuring of people through encounters".