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Guwahati: Altogether 161 incidents of police action took place across Assam in 13 months after Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took charge in May 2021, resulting in the death of 51 accused people and injuries to 139 others, the Gauhati High Court was informed.

The state government said this in an affidavit as sought by the high court which on Tuesday deferred the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) related to the incidents till July 29.

“As per records, there have been 51 deaths and 139 injuries caused due to police action or during police custody since May 2021 toll 21.05.2022. These incidents pertain to 31 numbers of districts of the state,” Home & Political Department Joint Secretary Animesh Talukdar said in the affidavit.

“… a total of 161 numbers of cases have been registered in 31 districts of Assam with effect from May 2021 to 31.05.2022,” read the affidavit a copy of which was available with PTI.

It stated that in all cases FIRs have been lodged and investigations were made as per an order of the Supreme Court.

The Assam government denied allegations by the petitioner of the PIL, advocate Arif Md Yeasin Jwadder, that separate FIRs of each incident of police firing, leading to death, have not been registered.

The petitioner sought an enquiry into the encounters by an independent agency such as CBI, SIT or any police team from other states under the supervision of the court.

“In all incidents where death occurred, separate FIRs were lodged and independent investigation as well as magisterial enquiries were ordered as per the provisions of the law,” the affidavit said.

It said that there are 32 incidents of death as well as four other incidents of “accidental death” of accused people while they were escaping from police custody. These cases have been investigated or are being investigated by officers from different police stations and those of different districts outside the jurisdiction of the superintendent of police concerned.

“…there was no extra-judicial killing as alleged by the petitioner,” the affidavit said.

Besides the Assam government, state DGP, law and justice department, National Human Rights Commission and Assam Human Rights Commission have been named as respondents in the PIL filed by Jwadder.

Filing the PIL on December 20, 2021, the petitioner claimed that more than 80 fake encounters between Assam Police and accused people have taken place since May last year when Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took charge, resulting in 28 deaths and more than 48 injuries.

The people killed or injured were not dreaded criminals and the modus operandi of police has been the same in all the encounters, the PIL said.

The petitioner doubted the police statement published in newspapers which said that the force had to retaliate in self-defence as the accused had tried to snatch service revolvers of the personnel.

According to the petitioner, the injured or dead persons were not militants, and it cannot be the case that all the accused could snatch a service revolver from a trained police officer.

Earlier, Jwadder had filed a complaint about the alleged fake encounters with the National Human Rights Commission in July last year.

The NHRC in November 2021 transferred the case to the Assam Human Rights Commission which had also taken suo motu action on the alleged fake encounters and asked for a report from the state government. The AHRC earlier this year disposed of the case as the same was going on at the Gauhati High Court.

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