Union Minister of State (Home) Mr. Rijuju expressed his dismay yesterday that it had become a “habit” of some people to raise doubts and question the police in such incidents. His senior, the Union Home Minister Mr. Naidu moved a step down below to say questioning the encounter is “cheap politics. (TOI 2 Nov 2016).
APDR, while, expressing its strong indignation in the killing of 8 under trial SIMI activists in the village of Eint Khedi near Bhopal on 30.10.16 wants to assert that raising doubts and questioning the police in such incidents are healthy habits and traditions absolutely necessary for the survival of Democracy and Rule of Law.
The killed under trials persons were identified as 1.Md. Aqeel Khilji 2.Mehdoob Guddu 3. Md. Khalid Ahmed 4. Mujeeb Sheikh 5. Amzad 6.Zakir Hussein 7. Abdul Majid Md . Salik Their trial was about to conclude and according to observers following their trial, there were high possibility of their acquittal. The video footages of the ‘encounter’, media reports and official statements have already identified grave inconsistencies in the official version of the so-called ‘encounter’, some of which are:
1. IG Bhopal Yogesh Chandra said, the killed under trials escaped from jail and fired on police and killed in crossfire. Whereas the Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said , ”SIMI members didn’t have gun, police had no choice but to kill them.”
2. The ‘escape’ from the ‘High Security’ prison equipped with most modern surveillance gadgets, CCTV cameras etc with the help of some ‘bed sheets’ is inexplicable.
3. All the UTs were well dressed, not in their jail uniforms
3. According to IG, the ‘escape’ took place at about 2.30 am and the ‘encounter’ took place at 10.30-11.00 am at a distance of about 13 Km. It is surprising that they moved in a group and was not spotted by any one during their 7-8 hours trek. The dresses of the corpses were perfectly ironed, spotless and with no signs of dust or wear/tear.
4. Even if the ‘escape-trek-encounter’ story is to be believed, the police did not follow the standard rules, NHRC guidelines and international standards in such situation. Police says that the victims fired 2 rounds of ammunition whereas the police fired 45-46 rounds.
The inconsistencies cast serious doubts in the police story.
Is it true, as apprehensions expressed by some observers that the victims were taken out of the jail by the perpetrators on the pretext of releasing them?
Were they taken to the secluded place near the village after widely circulating the story of a ‘jail break’?
Did they refuse to run away as asked by the perpetrators sensing foul play?
Did the victims tried to drive away those who brought them to the place before leaving the place by throwing bricks etc and arguing with them from atop the ‘tila’?
Was the ‘encounter’ staged at this juncture?
According to data available via a reply to a Loksabha question, a whopping 368 fake encounter cases were registered against the police in India from April 2011 to June 2014. During the one year period between October 2015 and September 2016 NHRC received 179 complaints of fake encounters, an increase of about 50%. These clearly indicate that killing people in the guise of ‘encounter’ has become a part and parcel of the state policy.
The Bhopal fake encounter yet again confirms APDR.s assertion that it has become amply clear that the state and the security forces are pursuing a policy of physically eliminating political activists and dissenting voices who are opposing various state policies including dispossessing the indigenous people of their livelihood and clear the ground for corporate loot. There are several instances where people of minority community falsely implicated in various cases, tortured and sentenced. After more than a decade in custody they were absolved of all charges. The police and the perpetrators enjoy absolute impunity for their heinous crimes.
APDR strongly opposes ‘state promoted killing’ and shrinking democratic space. We demand:
1. The government must abandon the culture of fake encounter and impunity.
2. Initiate an enquiry headed by a sitting Supreme Court or High Court Judge and including at least one Human Rights activist to bring out the real facts of the so called jail break and fake encounter.
3. Identify those involved in the killing of the under trials and punish them as per law. FIRs must be lodged against those claiming an ‘encounter’ as recommended by the NHRC.
We call upon all democratic voices to question the politics of encounter and impunity.
Working President, APDR
Due to the denial of police permission street meeting on 4th November to protest the Malkangiri and Bhopal fake encounter has been deferred. We will announce the date as early as possible.