Lucknow: Fake encounters have spawned a cottage industry in Uttar Pradesh with cops and politicians cashing in on Yogi Adityanath’s unstated policy of tackling gangsters and crime through the barrel of the gun.
An audio clip has surfaced in which a police officer is heard suggesting that some BJP leaders can engineer encounters in Uttar Pradesh. The station house officer of Mauranipur in Jhansi district is purportedly heard on tape Lekhraj Singh Yadav, an accused in several murder and extortion cases, about a planned encounter. “The season of encounters is on…. Your mobile number is under surveillance and you will be killed soon. Manage the Babina MLA and the BJP district president if you want to save yourself,” says the person believed to be the SHO, who has been suspended pending an inquiry.
‘‘We are the biggest criminals,” the voice adds, laughing. “I have killed many people and thrown them away…. You are a good man. God is with you…. But my history is very bad and my future is bright.” The person believed to be Lekhraj doesn’t speak much in the audio except for requesting the man at the other end to do something to save him. Babina MLA Rajeev Singh Parichha and Jhansi BJP chief Sanjay Dubey have denied interfering in encounter killings. SSP Vinod Kumar said: “It is a serious matter that a police officer is trying to bargain with a criminal. We have suspended the SHO and ordered a probe under an IPS officer.”
Chief Minister Adityanath had recently said the police had carried out 1,142 encounters during his one year in power, killing 34 criminals and putting behind bars 2,744 history-sheeters. The reality of these “fake encounters” may be very different. Countering Opposition criticism over the unusually high rate of encounters, CM Yogi Adityanath had said in the Assembly that it is “unfortunate that some people are showing sympathy for criminals. This is dangerous for democracy”.
The NHRC is on record having said: “Elimination of a criminal in such an unlawful manner can never send a good message to a civilised society. As has been emphasised time and again, the police do not have a right to take away the life of a human being. It is not the lawful way to deal with criminals.” But from all accounts the cops are thoroughly enjoying the free run and have boasted on social media about the bullets they are pumping into criminals.