‘Assam Police on an encounter spree’: NHRC urged to institute probe 

Express News Service
GUWAHATI: A Delhi-based Assam advocate has petitioned the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) alleging that the state police force was indulging in “fake encounters” since the installation of the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government on May 10 and seeking a probe into the incidents. 

The complainant, Arif Jwadder, alleged the Assam Police were “on an encounter spree” where small-time criminals were being shot and the reason cited for such encounters was that they had tried to flee from police custody snatching pistols. 

“…More than 20 such encounters took place and most of the persons at the receiving ends were alleged drug dealers, alleged cattle dealers. In some of the cases, the alleged criminals have died on the spot,” Jwadder wrote in his letter to the NHRC.

Listing 10 cases, the lawyer said the police personnel were “staging fake encounters with impunity” following the CM’s recent statement that policemen should shoot at the legs of criminals as permitted by law. 

“The injured or dead persons are/were not militants and hence, not trained to use pistols. It is very unlikely that they could use pistols after snatching against the policemen who were heavily armed,” the advocate wrote. 

He refused to believe the petty criminals could snatch a pistol from a trained police officer. 

“It cannot also be believed that an army of policemen couldn’t stop the alleged criminals from fleeing from custody,” he said, adding the police were denying the right of a fair trial to the alleged criminals.

“It is requested to take cognisance of the matter and institute an inquiry into all such fake encounters which have taken place since May 2021,” Jwadder wrote to the Commission.

At a conference of police officers, CM Sarma had said: “Somebody asked me if it has become a pattern in Assam that criminals are fired upon when they attempt to flee from police custody. I would say that should be the pattern.”

However, opposition Congress was critical of the police force for frequent use of firearms. 

“It may have dangerous results if it becomes a habit. Today, it may be a criminal. Tomorrow, it may be an innocent man. This kind of freedom to shoot is against human rights to get a fair trial and undermines the whole judicial process,” the party had said.