Police encounters surge in UP since Yogi took charge, over 186 killed in 6 yearstext_fields
Lucknow: In a startling revelation, the police records show that a surge in police encounters, with a staggering 186 killings and the bulldozing of properties belonging to alleged criminals ever since Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath assumed office in March 2017 in Uttar Pradesh. The records show the deaths of alleged criminals at a rate of more than one every 15 days, according to a report published in The Indian Express.
The TIE investigation further reveals that during the same period, there have been over 5,046 cases of police firing to injure, typically targeting the legs of alleged criminals. This amounts to more than 30 individuals being shot and injured every 15 days. Shockingly, among the list of 186 killed in police encounters, 96 were facing murder charges, while two faced cases of molestation, gang rape, and POCSO.
While official records indicate a significant drop in overall crime rates, including an 82% reduction in dacoity and a 37% decrease in murder cases between 2016 and 2022, few are linking this decline to the encounters.
In fact, Prashant Kumar, Special DG, Crime and Law & Order, Uttar Pradesh Police, denies encounters being part of their strategy to combat heinous crimes or deter hardened criminals.
Critics point out that most encounter deaths remain unquestioned and unchallenged. Magisterial inquiries, which are mandatory for each police encounter resulting in death, have been completed and disposed of without any objections raised in as many as 161 cases.
The magistrate is supposed to record statements from the involved policemen and other potential witnesses, submitting a report with their own findings. However, adverse comments have been conspicuously absent from these reports.
Another procedural aspect following each encounter involves filing a case against the deceased criminals and submitting a closure report in court. Records show that closure reports have been filed in 156 out of the 186 encounters, with the courts accepting 141 of them. The remaining 30 cases are still under police investigation.
An analysis of encounter data reveals that nearly one-third of these incidents, accounting for 65 alleged criminals shot and killed by the police, occurred in districts within the Meerut zone. The Varanasi and Agra zones accounted for 20 and 14 cases, respectively. When questioned about this dominance, Prashant Kumar attributed it to West UP's historically high crime rate.
During the six-year period from March 2017 to April 2023, a total of 13 policemen were killed and 1,443 injured in exchanges of fire with alleged criminals. Notably, the Meerut zone recorded the highest number of casualties, with 1 out of the 13 policemen killed and 405 out of the 1,443 injured hailing from the region.
The surge in encounters and the controversial nature of their execution have raised concerns about human rights violations and the lack of transparency surrounding these incidents.
While the government claims these measures are necessary to maintain law and order and create a crime-free society, critics argue that the increasing number of encounters and the lack of accountability raise serious questions about extrajudicial killings and the erosion of due process in Uttar Pradesh.