Assam Police has been going on an ‘encounter spree’ ever since Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma took over as the Chief Minister of the state. Backed by the Chief Minister himself, Assam Police has been involved in more than 30 encounters in the first two months of his tenure in which 12 accused have been gun down and five others have been injured. These adventures of the Assam Police have not gone down well with the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC).
Taking suo motu cognizance of the incidents on the basis of news reports published in two Guwahati-based newspapers, AHRC has directed the state government to initiate a high-level inquiry into the matter.
“Considering the gravity of the reported incidents the commission has felt necessary to issue notice to the higher authority of Home and Political Department for high-level inquiry,” the order issued by AHRC on July 7 stated.
The order cited 11 encounters where the accused were either shot dead or injured.
It firstly mentions the death of six suspected Dimasa National Liberation Army (DNLA) militants and two alleged insurgents of the United People’s Revolutionary Front (UPRF) who were killed in two separate encounters in the Karbi-Anglong district.
Then it goes on to describe incidents about four other suspected criminals who were killed in different encounters.
The order mentions the death of one sub-inspector, K. Sing Siddhu, an accused of a kidnapping case who was shot dead while he was taken to Guwahati for allegedly snatching the service pistol of a police officer.
“Another accused Chaurangi Syni allegedly involved in cow syndicate was also shoot dead at Kokrajhar who allegedly snatched the pistol of SI Bhaskar Basumatary when he was taken by the police to arrest co-accused persons and tried to attack police. In another incident one abductor was also killed in police firing at Rani Forest, near Assam-Maghalaya border who was identified as Bhadrewar Timung. In Sibasagar Dist. in a mysterious encounter one Bubu Konwar, a professional killer as alleged by police, was killed on the spot under a suspicious circumstances,” the order added.
The development comes after a Delhi-based advocate from Assam, Arif Jwadder, lodged a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) alleging that the Assam Police has been involved in fake encounters since Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government took charge in the state.
Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister on July 5 during the first-ever conference of officers-in-charge justified the actions of the police department and said, “When someone asked me whether shooting incidents are becoming a pattern in the state, I replied that it should be the pattern if it involves a criminal trying to escape police custody.”
The rising police encounters and the statements by the CM justifying it have resulted in a political turmoil among the opposition parties in the state. The opposition has slammed the BJP government and the police department for gunning down the accused who have not been convicted yet which violates their basic human rights.
“These people are under-trial prisoners. They have not been convicted by the court yet. In the course of the trial, they might also get acquitted. And until a person is found guilty of a crime by the court he is innocent. So the death of these people under the custody of the police is a complete violation of their basic human rights and we will raise this issue in the ongoing assembly session,” Debarata Saikia, leader of the Congress Legislative Party said.