Encounter killings: 5 notable cases from the past

In a shocking incident, a week after the brutal gang rape and murder of a young veterinarian in Hyderabad, police shot dead all the four accused in an alleged 'encounter' near Shadnagar town. The accused were killed in the early hours of Friday when they allegedly snatched weapons from the police and tried to escape from the Chatanpally near Shadnagar, about 50 km from Hyderabad.

So what is encounter killing?

Wikipedia says “An encounter is a euphemism used in South Asia, especially in India, to describe extra judicial killings in which police or armed forces shoot down suspected gangsters and terrorists in gun battles.”

But Critics are sceptical of many of these reported incidents, and further complain that the wide acceptance of the practice has led to incidents of the police staging fake encounters to cover-up the killing of suspects when they are either in custody or are unarmed.

Here are few of the notable cases of encounter killing:

Ishrat Jahan

Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old student from Mumbra was abducted, sedated, confined and brutally killed by the Gujarat police. Ishrat, a 19-year-old woman from Mumbra near Mumbai, was killed on June 15, 2004 along with Javed Shaikh, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, by the Gujarat police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. The police claimed they were terrorists who had plotted to to kill then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. However, an investigation by a special investigation team set up up by the Gujarat high court established that the encounter was staged. The Supreme Court later handed over the case to the CBI, which filed a chargesheet against several Gujarat police officers for their involvement in the crime.

Sohrabuddin Sheikh

Sohrabuddin Anwarhussain Sheikh was an underworld criminal who died while in police custody on November 26, 2005. On the day of his killing, Sohrab was travelling from Hyderabad to Maharashtra with his wife. The ATS wing of the Gujarat police stopped the bus and took the both of them away. Three days later, Sheikh was killed in an alleged encounter just outside Ahmedabad. Intervention by Sheikh’s brother and several media houses breaking the conspiracy story lead to investigations by the CBI, which resulted in the arrest and conviction of most police officers involved.

Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiyya

Lakhan Bhaiya was a close aide of gangster Chhota Rajan. In 2013, a Mumbai sessions court had awarded life sentences to 21 people, including 13 Mumbai Police personnel, convicted for killing Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya in a fake encounter on November 11, 2006. Ramanarayan Gupta was killed in an encounter by the Mumbai Police near Versova, in suburban Mumbai. Lakhan Bhaiyya, as he was known by most, was picked up from Navi Mumbai on Nov 11, 2006 on the basis of suspicion. He was later gunned down the same day.

Tulsiram Prajapati

Tulsiram Prajapati was an associate of Sohrabuddin and was killed while in police custody. Prajapati was killed in Dec, 2006. The case is widely believed to have been an encounter killing by the Gujarat Police.

Manya Surve

Manohar Arjun Surve popularly known as Manya Surve, was killed in an police encounter in Mumbai's Wadala. It is believed Mumbai police allegedly received a tip from Dawood Ibrahim that Surve would be arriving at a beauty parlour near the Ambedkar College junction there. Surve was the first educated Hindu gangster whose reign of terror in the area of Agar Bazaar, Dadar, still sends a shiver down the spines of people.

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