The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (UP STF) on Thursday, 13 April killed Asad Ahmed, son of gangster Atiq Ahmed, and his aide Ghulam in an encounter in UP’s Jhansi. The duo was accused in the Umesh Pal murder case.
Many leaders in the Opposition including All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) Chief Asaduddin Owaisi and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav have raised questions about the encounter.
According to official data released by the UP police, 183 accused have been killed in nearly 11,000 encounters from March 20, 2017 to April 13, 2023. In other words, on an average, five encounters have taken place daily in UP in the last five years under the Yogi Adityanath government.
Special DG UP Police Prashant Kumar told The Quint that frequent encounters are not a part of the policing policy of the state; however if any of the police officers are shot at, they will respond adequately in self-defence.
Meerut Tops in Encounters, Deaths
Meerut has witnessed the maximum number of encounters in the last six years. As per data released by UP Police, 3,205 encounters were carried out between March 2017 and April 2023, in which, 64 accused were killed.
This is followed by Varanasi, where 712 encounters were carried out and 20 accused were killed. While Agra witnessed 1,880 encounters which led to the killing of 14 accused, UP’s capital city Lucknow saw 511 encounters, in which 11 accused were killed.
'Half-Encounters’ in Uttar Pradesh
As per the data, 5,046 accused were injured in police encounter i.e., they were shot in the leg and later arrested. This is often referred to as “half-encounter” in Uttar Pradesh. Many times, the accused end up lose their leg in ‘half-encounters’ or their body becomes partially or completely paralysed.
An example of this was seen in Meerut in 2019, when 22-year-old Seeman Khan, who was returning after distributing his sister's wedding cards, was hit by three bullets in a police encounter and became partially paralysed, according to a report in The Times Of India.
Sheman was suspected to have stolen a bike by the local police. But later the police found that the documents of the purchase of the bike were available with Sheman. After the matter came to light in the media, the top officials had also set up an investigation. However, no action has been taken against the accused policemen.
Human Rights Organisations Cry Foul
Several civil society organisations based in India and abroad, and those linked to the United Nations have, over time, expressed their concern over frequent encounter killings in UP.
Three civil society organisations – Youth for Human Rights Documentation, Citizens Against Hate and People’s Watch -- had shared a 165-page report in October 2021 called Extinguishing Law and Life: Police Killings and Cover Up in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which found inconsistencies in the probe and alleged circumvention of due process.
On being asked about these allegations, top police officials told The Quint that all the encounters are carried out in line with the court’s directives, and that the police has not been convicted by the court in any of the cases.
Questions have, however, been raised on UP Police in some cases. Last year in Agra, a young man was killed in an encounter by the local police that allegedly called him a part of a mining mafia.
Mamta Devi, a resident of Morena district of Madhya Pradesh, had given an application in the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court of Agra that her son Akash had gone to Agra on 27 September 2022 to know about the process of Agniveer recruitment. Later it was reported that he was shot dead in a police encounter. He had died during treatment.
Mamta's application was accepted in March this year and the CJM court has given orders to file a case against the accused policemen.