The Gauhati High Court on Monday directed the Assam government to present case details of all “alleged” encounter killings since the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in May. The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea moved before it seeking an independent probe into the alleged fake encounters of the Assam Police.
Since May 2021, soon after BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma took over as chief minister of Assam, at least 31 men have been killed while in police custody or in alleged shootouts with the police. The most killed belonged to ethnic or religious minorities in Assam. Out of the 30 people identified, 14 were Muslims. 10 were from Bodo, Dimasa, or Kuki – tribal communities.
The Bench of Chief Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Soumitra Saikia heard Senior Advocate Indira Jai Singh who appeared for the petitioner, Delhi-based Lawyer- Arif Jwadder, and gave one week time to the Advocate General for Assam, D. Saikia to file his response in the matter, Live Law reported.
In plea, Arif Jwadder sought registration of FIR for an offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code over the fake encounter killings of the alleged accused by the police personnel.
Plea read: “According to the police statement as published in all newspapers, it is stated that the alleged accused tried to snatch service revolvers of the police personnel and in self defense, police had to retaliate and kill or injure the alleged accused. All the injured or dead persons were not militants and hence not trained to use pistols and it is very unlikely that they could use the service revolvers after snatching against the police force that were outnumbered and heavily armed. It cannot be the case that all the alleged accused could snatch a service revolver from a trained police officer whose pistols are normally tied to a rope to the waist belt of that officer.”
According to a recently published report by Scroll, the police version of the custodial deaths follows a familiar script in almost every case: the dead man was shot as he tried to snatch service weapons or was trying to escape custody.
One among those 31 is 12-year-old Sheikh Farid who was killed in police firing during a forced eviction drive in the Sipajhar area on 23 September this year. 32-year-old Moinul Haque was also killed in police’s open firing on the same day.
A 72-second video of photographer Bijoy Baniya jumping on the body of one of the Muslims shot by the police went viral, triggering outrage across the nation.
Regarding the Assam Police data of injuries in police shootings, at least 55 people were injured in police shootings between May 10 and December 10, and of these, at least 30 are Muslims.