In Uttar Pradesh, gunbattles often follow big crimeJanuary 14th, 2009 - 12:01 pm ICT by IANS
Lucknow, Jan 14 (IANS) In the year that has just begun, Uttar Pradesh police already claim to have gunned down eight criminals in three shootouts. So are the cops in the state simply out to show results or are they really cracking down on crime?Some point out that all the alleged gunbattles with criminals - called encounters in popular jargon in India - came close on the heels of heinous crimes in various parts of the state and that police may be trying to hoodwink the public.
“Whenever a heinous crime takes place, police try to pacify things by killing criminals in so-called encounters,” said S.R. Darapuri, a retired inspector-general of Uttar Pradesh police.
“Police usually pick up criminals and keep them at undisclosed locations for this purpose,” he told IANS.
Darapuri went on to suggest that the families of people who are picked up by police should immediately inform the district judge or magistrate or approach the human rights department in writing.
But top policemen dismiss it as a mere coincidence.
“Encounters take place when police come face to face with criminals, usually after a tip-off,” insisted an ‘encounter specialist’ - as policemen who are frequently involved in such gunbattles are called.
One such police-criminal gun battle this month followed the headline-grabbing lynching of a Public Works Department engineer in Auraiya district, Dec 24, allegedly by a ruling Bahujan Samaj Party legislator, Shekhar Tiwari, along with his henchmen.
It was alleged that Tiwari was extorting money to donate funds for Chief Minister Mayawati’s Jan 15 birthday bash and the engineer’s refusal led to his murder. Her birthday is also called Aarthik Sahayog Diwas (financial help day) in the BSP.
Tiwari and other co-accused were arrested. “I have expelled Tiwari and I once again repeat that the law and order of the state is perfect. Anyone committing a crime will be strictly punished,” Mayawati has said a number of times.
Her policemen seemed out to prove her right.
Lucknow Police gunned down three criminals early Jan 4. “There were five criminals in a van and when we tried to stop them, they opened fire. Three were killed in the exchange of fire and two escaped,” said inspector Kalyan Singh.
Three countrymade weapons and a van were recovered from the spot.
The Muzaffarnagar cops were quick to follow the next day, Jan 5.
“We challenged Sundar Pandit, who was on a motorcycle along with two of his associates. He opened fire at us and was killed in the encounter,” district police chief B.D. Paulson said.
In this case too, two criminals managed to escape and the police recovered a single barrel rifle and a motorcycle from site.
The same day, another shocking crime was reported in Noida. An MBA student was gangraped and physically assaulted by a group of 11 boys there.
Police arrested five youths within 12 hours and and the remaining were also subsequently arrested.
The state’s Director-General of Police, Vikram Singh, once again said: “Criminals will be punished strictly and stern action will be taken against anyone found involved in any kind of crime.”
Sure enough, Jan 8, police in Azamgarh had a gun battle with six people accused of murder, loot and extortion.
“The police team spotted them and on being challenged, they opened fire. Four were killed on the spot and two managed to escape,” Additional Director General of Police (crime, law and order) Brijlal said in Lucknow after the shootout.
The recovery this time was two 9mm carbines, one 9mm pistol, one .12 bore rifle and a country made pistol.
“The timings (of the encounter) have nothing to do with the engineer’s murder or the Noida incident. It is purely a coincidence,” Brijlal said.