Tinsukia: A New Delhi-based lawyer has knocked the doors of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) against the “slew of encounters” by Assam Police since the formation of the new government two months ago.

The development came at a time when chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has been repeatedly heard saying that “shooting at criminals” should be a pattern if they attempt to escape from custody. At least 13 suspected insurgents and criminals have been killed since May this year and dozens of accused in custody — for crimes ranging from rape to cattle smuggling — have been injured in police firing on the grounds that they were “trying to flee”.

Advocate Arif Jwadder, in his complaint to NHRC, said that Assam Police is on an encounter spree. 

“Since the new government took office in the state, there has been fake encounters wherein alleged small time criminals are being shot and the reason cited for such encounters are that the alleged criminals tried to flee from the police custody snatching pistols [sic],” Jwadder said in his complaint while listing 10 incidents that have been reported in the media.

The list includes Bubu Konwar, wanted for several crimes including murder, who was gunned down in a shootout on May 13; and sacked Railway Protection Special Force sub-inspector Kanwaldeep Singh Sidhu and Assam police jawan Rambabu Singh, wanted for abducting a businessman, both of whom were shot dead on July 3.

The list also includes alleged cattle smugglers Shah Jamal, Mozammil Haque and Sorangi Chinnai, who were shot in the leg between May 31 and July 2, and alleged drug dealer Jaitul Kabir and Syed Ali, a 65-year-old arrested for rape and murder of a minor, both of whom met a similar fate on May 31 and July 2, respectively.

According to Jwadder, who quoted various media reports, over 20 such encounters have taken place till now.

“Very recently Assam Chief Minister stated in a police conference that police should shoot at alleged criminals at legs which are permitted by law. After such statement by chief minister, now police are staging fake encounters with impunity,” Jwadder wrote.

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All the injured or dead persons are/were not militants and hence not trained to use pistols and it is very unlikely that they could use the pistols after snatching them from the police force that were heavily armed, Jwadder said.

“Also it cannot be believed that all alleged petty criminals could snatch a pistol from a trained police officer whose pistols/ guns are normally tied by a rope to their waist belt,” he said, adding: “It cannot also be believed that an army of police couldn’t stop the alleged criminals from fleeing from custody.”

Making it a case of denial of rights of the alleged criminal of a fair trial, Jwadder requested the NHRC to take cognizance of the matter and conduct an inquiry against all such fake encounters which have taken place since May this year.

Meanwhile, Assam Police’s shooting spree continued on Sunday with Sadiya police firing at an alleged ULFA-I linkman in his leg and injuring him. The accused has been identified as Tapan Buragohain.

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