15 JULY 2013The nine-year-old Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case has once again brought to national limelight the controversial issue of extra judicial killings being carried out by various State police and other forces like the Army and the paramilitary. Debate over fake encounters notwithstanding, such cases are growing in the country, more so in disturbed areas like the Naxal-affected States and the north east.
Government figures show that in the last four years, 555 fake encounter cases were registered across India, with majority being reported in Uttar Pradesh (138), followed by Manipur (62), Assam (52), West Bengal (35), Jharkhand (30), Chhattisgarh (29), Odisha (27), Jammu and Kashmir (26), Tamil Nadu (23) and Madhya Pradesh (20). Only 144 cases, out of 555, have been solved so far.
Significantly, the data shows that of the top 10 States, five are Naxal-affected States. Barring 2012-13, where there has been a slight drop in such cases pan-India, in the previous three years there has been a steady increase. The total number of fake encounter cases in 2009-10 were 103, which went up to 129 in 2010-11 and then to 197 in 2011-12.
“Whatever cases regarding alleged fake encounter are registered, they are mainly due to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)’s intervention… The State police always try and hide such cases and the Centre has no control over States or a mechanism to deal with such cases. While a decade back fake encounters were rampant in insurgency-affected States like Jammu and Kashmir and the north east, such cases are now growing in the Naxal-affected states,” said Asian Centre for Human Rights Director Suhas Chakma.
He pointed out that fake encounters were not being fully reported from the Maoist-affected States due to lack of media scrutiny and terror of State and police administration in human rights and social workers who are active in these States. “In these States, security forces have waged a war against Maoists… And in this war between security forces and Naxals, the poor tribals are getting targeted. Even government figures points towards this anomaly. There is so much paucity of information that it is not getting anybody’s attention, not even that of the NHRC,” Mr. Chakma added.
Notably, in the last four years no State has shown any major improvement in their record regarding fake encounters, although Uttarakhand, Tripura, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh reported no case last fiscal (till February 15, 2013), while Assam and Manipur saw major increase in such cases.
In Gujarat, which has been in news lately due to the ongoing trial in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, eight cases were registered in last three years. Four cases were reported in 2012-13 alone.
Noting that growing cases of fake encounters should been seen as an offshoot of a non-functional criminal judicial system, former BSF Director General Prakash Singh, who has also headed Uttar Pradesh and Assam police, said in-principal he was against extra judicial killings, but what are security personnel supposed to do when he knows that a particular terrorist or mafia don pose threaten the nation’s security and would get away by taking advantage of loopholes in the judicial system.
“Our criminal judicial system has not been able to fix terrorists and mafia dons,” he argued. He also expressed dismay over “targeting” of senior police officers (in Gujarat) and asked why human rights activities were mum over alleged fake encounters in Punjab during insurgency days that had “approvals of higher ups in Delhi.”
THE HINDU, 15 JULY 2013