Police encounters ploy to protect 'top criminals': Assam Jatiya Parishad

·3-min read

(Eds: Adds details) Guwahati, Jul 9 (PTI) The Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) on Friday came down heavily against Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarmas sanction for making encounters a pattern in handling fleeing criminals, saying it has cast doubts on the actual motives.

AJP general secretary Jagadish Bhuyan alleged that the surge in encounters in Assam was a ploy to 'silence' lower-rung criminals to protect their bosses running illegal syndicates, including politicians and top police officers.

The chief minister at a meeting with officers in- charge of police stations across the state on July 5 had said that shooting at criminals 'should be the pattern' if they attempt to escape from custody or try to snatch arms from on- duty personnel and fire at them.

Addressing a press conference here, AJP general secretary questioned, 'Under the guise of fighting crime, are people being 'silenced' and terror created in their minds to protect the top criminals? 'We also want a crime-free society. But it should be based on the principles of law.' The statement of the chief minister that police encounters could be the new pattern is against the laid down and approved principles of our country, Bhuyan said.

A rising number of police encounters, which have seen more than a dozen suspected insurgents and criminals being shot dead 'as they tried to escape from custody' in less than two months, has whipped up a political furore in Assam.

The rise in the number of such incidents since the new government came to power on May 10 has led the Opposition to allege that the Assam Police has turned 'trigger happy' under the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led regime.

The opposition, including the Congress and the Raijor Dal, have already slammed the chief minister for allegedly encouraging shooting by police to check crime.

However, the Assam Police had refuted the allegation, claiming that it was the militants and criminals who forced its personnel to resort to firing.

Bhuyan further alleged that criminal rackets and syndicates in the state have been running for several years in connivance with a section of politicians and police officers, and the encounters could be to 'protect' those involved in these crimes.

Referring to the operations against cattle smuggling, Bhuyan said, the government should institute an inquiry into the alleged Rs 60,000 crore illegal dealings in the syndicate in the last five years.

He pointed that the incumbent chief minister has himself claimed that Rs 1,000 crore illegal transactions happen per month in the cattle smuggling syndicate.

The BJP had led a coalition government in the state in the last five years and retained power in this years state polls, with Sarma replacing Sarbananda Sonowal as the chief minister.

'How can we be sure that those involved in cattle smuggling will not be killed in an encounter to erase all evidence?' Bhuyan questioned.

He also expressed apprehension that with the encounters becoming a 'pattern', these could soon be used for vindictive purposes.

Pointing out that the ways to deal with a criminal are elaborated under different sections of IPC, CrPC, and Police Manual, the AJP leader alleged that the chief ministers statement of July 5 could lead to a mindset among the police officers in favour of encounters.

If any convict or accused is to die in police firing other than the conditions specified under the law, the police officers have to face charges of culpable homicide, Bhuyan said.

The AJP leader also criticised the chief minister's recent statement undermining the power and role of an MLA in a democratic set-up.

'The executive, the legislature, and the judiciary are the pillars of democracy. The CM's statement that the officers will not listen to the MLAs but only work at the instruction of the ministers negates the importance of the legislature.

'The power to hand out death sentence given to the police by the chief minister has also clearly done away with the judiciarys role,' he claimed.

The message that the chief minister is sending that only the executive is important is against our Constitution and the AJP strongly opposes it, he added. PTI SSG MM MM

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