Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday, 5 July, said that shooting at criminals "should be the pattern" if they attempt to escape from custody.
Speaking at a congregation on ‘Redefining Policing Standards in Assam,’ the chief minister was questioned on the recent spate of incidents wherein alleged criminals have been fired at while in custody – a rise in which has been observed since he came to power.
What He Said
"When someone asked me whether shooting incidents are becoming a pattern in the state, I replied that (shooting) should be the pattern if it involves a criminal trying to escape police custody," Sarma said, news agency PTI reported.
He further stated that in such cases, "we will take a zero tolerance approach."
Sarma, who also holds the charge of the state's home ministry, said that the police has no authority for encountering criminals in a democracy, and that such methods are only adopted as the last resort.
"If an accused tries to snatch the service gun and run away, or even simply flee, and on top of it he is, say, a rapist, the law allows shooting at such a person on the leg, but not on the chest," Sarma said at the meeting, which was attended by the Officers-in-Charge of all police stations of the state.
"But before doing what law has permitted us to do, we must keep our conscience clear that our work is for the good of the people and not to serve any interest of our own," he added.
As many as 12 suspected insurgents and criminals have been killed and several others reported injured in police encounters in Assam since May. The state police has alleged that it is the perpetrators' actions which compel the police to resort to firing.
At the conference, CM Sarma also announced schemes for betterment of the working conditions of the police force, including the provision of ₹ 2.5 lakh every year, three computers, a four-wheeler vehicle, residential quarters for every officer-in-charge and three sub-inspectors, and a power generator, for every police station in the state.
On Sunday, 4 July, Sarma had chaired a meet of over 150 leading ‘indigenous’ Muslim personalities from diverse fields. Following his meeting, Sarma was quoted by PTI as claiming that they have all agreed that population growth is a threat to the development of Assam.
(With inputs from PTI and NDTV)