An RTI query revealed that 1782 cases of fake encounters were registered in India between 2000 and 2017, out of which 1565 cases have been disposed of so far.
Regarding this new revelation, a conventional chain connecting Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Ishrat Jahan, Kuldeep Singh and Salim can be seen. It is that they are among people who were allegedly killed in fake encounter cases in India. While one may have come across the former two which turned into a high-profile case involving political leaders, the latter two were one of the many human rights violation cases mentioned in one of the annual reports of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Sheikh was a gangster with alleged terror links. He and his wife were allegedly abducted by the Gujarat Police’s Anti- Terrorism Squad from Hyderabad on their way to Sangli in Maharashtra in November 2005.
Sheikh was allegedly killed in a fake encounter near Gandhinagar while his wife disappeared.
Ishrat Jahan Encounter case is an ongoing criminal case in the Gujarat state of India, in which the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) initially accused officers of the Ahmedabad Police Crime branch and members of the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB) of Ahmedabad of jointly having carried out a staged encounter killing by shooting four people on 15 June 2004.
One of those killed in the incident was Ishrat Jahan Raza, 19- year-old woman. The police claimed that she and her associates were Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives involved in a terroristic plot to assassinate the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi.
As per data received from the annual reports of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Uttar Pradesh accounted for a surging 44.5 percent (794 cases) of the cases registered across all states.
In the list following Uttar Pradesh, the five states including Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Manipur and Assam recorded the next highest number of fake encounter cases. However, each one of them registered less than six percent of all the facts registered since 2000- Andhra Pradesh (94 cases; 5.27 percent), Bihar (74 cases: 4.5 percent), Jharkhand (69 cases; 3.87 percent, Assam (69 cases; 3.87 percent) and Manipur (63 cases; 3.53 percent).
While other states like Delhi, the National Capital accounted for 40 cases, Jammu and Kashmir accounted 22 cases during the same period. No data was revealed for Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Lakshadweep, as per the RTI reply.
The data for over the last five years accounted for less than 60 cases registered in states per year, except for the year 2015, when the number hiked to 140 cases. In 2017, 19 fake encounter cases have been recorded, out of which only ten have been disposed of till now.
As per 2016 stats, Union home ministry identified 106 districts in 10 states that lay affected by left-wing extremism (LWE) which included Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. While Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 51 out of 794 cases pending, Andhra Pradesh reported 54 pending cases from the 94 registered in the state.
In a recent fake encounter case in Noida, two persons were shot at by Noida Police, taking suo moto cognisance of media reports, National Human Rights commission issued notices to the Uttar Pradesh government to seek investigation.
What Is Recommended
As per Section 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the commission is empowered to recommend compensation, damages, or interim relief to the families of the victim or complaint.
Though NHRC does not provide any financial relief, it recommends it to government agencies involved. Between 2013 and 2017, the NHRC recommended monetary aid of Rs. 60.07 crore to the affected parties in fake encounter cases.
The top five states that have been recommended fund include Andhra Pradesh (Rs 71.3 lakh), Assam (Rs 5.8 crore) and Uttar Pradesh (Rs 13.23 crore), Manipur (Rs 3.54 crore), Bihar (Rs 2.38 crore). In the past five years, Assam has received the highest monetary recommendation of Rs 5.8 crore for 64 cases.
The top court has on July 14 last year set up an SIT comprising five CBI officers and ordered registration of FIRs and probe into alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur. It had asked the CBI director to nominate a team of five officers for the SIT to lodge the necessary FIRs and complete the investigation into alleged fake encounters by December 31 last year.
Fake encounters are staged confrontations between the police or military forces and victims whom the security officials believed to be “culprits”.
‘Encounter Killing’ is a term used in India and Pakistan since the late 20th century to describe killings by the police or the armed forces, allegedly in self-defense, when they encounter suspected gangsters or terrorists.