Two men, a Muslim youth and an Adivasi youth who were accused of raping two minor girls in two separate incidents in Assam were gunned down by police on Tuesday.
Biki Ali and Rajesh Munda were killed in bullet injuries.
Ali was arrested in Guwahati for his alleged involvement in the gang rape of a Class IX student last month. Police claimed he was shot dead after he allegedly tried to flee from police custody. He was rushed to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital with bullet injuries on his chest, where he died. There were four bullet injuries in his body.
Munda was an accused in an alleged rape and murder of an eight-year girl in Udalguri district. Cops said he was killed in encounter as he tried to flee and attack poicemen.
Opposition Congress termed the incidents as extra-judicial killings and condemned the BJP-led government’s support to such killings.
“Only the court can decide, whether an accused is guilty or not. By killing the accused in police custody before trial by a court of law, what kind of message the government is sending?” Deccan Herald quotes Congress legislature party leader, Debabrata Saikia as saying.
Since May last year, soon after BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma took over as chief minister of Assam, at least 39 men have been killed while in police custody or in alleged shootouts with the police.
Out of the people identified, at least 16 were Muslims. Near a dozen were from Bodo, Dimasa or Kuki – tribal communities in the state that have seen armed movements for self-determination and the communities that were reportedly facing police action for being ‘extremists’.
Government data showed 28 people were killed by police from May till the end of November. Two more people, died in police custody and another person died in a police shootout in December, Scroll reported.
According to a report published 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.
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 were Muslims.
Three months after BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma took over as chief minister of Assam, Arif Jwadder, a lawyer from Assam had moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking an inquiry into all extrajudicial killings that have taken place in the state since May.
“Assam police is on (an) encounter spree! Since the new government took office in the state there have been fake encounters wherein alleged small-time criminals are being shot and the reason cited for such encounters are that the alleged criminals tried to flee from the police custody (by) snatching pistols,” read the email compliant by Arif to the commission’s chairperson.
Arif also had referred to Assam chief minister Sarma’s controversial remark at a conference of officers-in-charge of all police stations in the state “that police should shoot at alleged criminals in the legs, which is permitted by law.”
“There is criticism of policemen shooting accused/criminals who tried to flee or harm others in the recent past. Law allows to shoot them in the leg. If this is the pattern, let it remain so to send the right message,” Sarma had said.