Guwahati: Urging the MLAs not to get swayed by the version of accused persons about alleged police excesses, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday said in the assembly that legislators must not interfere with everything, as power of every organ is defined in a democracy.
Opposition parties have decried police encounters against alleged criminals that led to the death of 15 people in the last two months.
“An MLA shouldn’t interfere with everything. There is a tendency among the MLAs to encroach on the space of the judiciary, of the executive,” Sarma said during a discussion on a Special Mention brought by Opposition AIUDF legislator Aminul Islam on police modernisation.
Sarma urged the legislators not to be swayed by the sob stories of people who find themselves at the receiving end of the law as repeated questions on actions of the police by the MLAs could be detrimental to controlling crime.
The powers are well defined, he added, referring to the role of the police in investigating and arresting suspected criminals, that of the judiciary in deciding a case as per the law.
The MLAs have the responsibility in framing laws, the chief minister of Assam said.
“If we (MLAs) start getting swayed by what the accused tells us and question every action of the police, they will become hesitant to act. If we don’t adopt a zero tolerance policy against crime, our sons and daughters could be the next victims,” he said.
Sarma, who also holds the Home portfolio, elaborated on some of the steps being taken to modernize the police force.
He said that steps are being taken to have separate wings for investigation and for maintaining law and order in every police station.
The investigation wing is also being made more effective, he added.
Ten commando battalions are being formed with some operational mandate and will be deployed at crucial areas, like border areas.
Further, retired sub-inspectors aged between 60 to 65 years will be engaged to go through all pending cases at police stations and write charge-sheets, so that workload in police stations can be decreased.
“The police personnel will henceforth be given one month compulsory paid leave every year to visit their families. It will be one week for personnel who get official quarters. Also, we are trying to bring down the shift to eight hours a day,” Sarma added.
Earlier, raising the matter, AIUDF legislator Islam pointed to a large number of vacancies in the police department.
On the police encounters, he said, “We are not saying that all these are fake, but we can’t certify that all are genuine either. The government must maintain a vigilant eye.”
Islam suggested that a cameraperson or a photographer could accompany police teams during operations to ensure there is evidence of genuineness of the encounter or firing incident.
In the last two months, 15 accused people were killed and 23 others were injured in police encounters when they snatched service weapons, tried to attack and attempted to escape.
Taking suo moto cognisance, the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) had on July 7 asked the state government to institute an inquiry into the circumstances that led to the death and injury of the accused in police encounters over the past two months.
Earlier, a New Delhi-based lawyer from Assam, Arif Jwadder, had filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) against the Assam police for a series of encounters that have taken place since Sarma took over on May 10.
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