GUWAHATI: The Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) on Friday alleged that the surge in encounters in Assam was a ploy to “silence” lower-rung criminals to protect their bosses running illegal syndicates, including politicians and top police officers.
The chief minister’s sanction to make encounters the “pattern” in handling fleeing criminals, whose numbers have suddenly spiked, has led to doubts on the actual motives of these incidents, the party further alleged.
Addressing a press conference here, AJP general secretary Jagadish Bhuyan questioned, “Under the guise of fighting crime, are people being ‘silenced’ and terror created in their minds to protect the top criminals?” More than a dozen suspected militants and criminals have been shot dead in the state since May as they reportedly tried to escape from custody, while several others, including rape accused, and suspected cattle smugglers, have been injured, the AJP leader claimed.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, at a meeting on July 5 with Officers In-Charge of police stations across the state, had said that shooting at criminals “should be the pattern” if they attempt to escape from custody or try to snatch arms from on-duty personnel and fire at them.
Bhuyan further alleged that criminal rackets and syndicates in the state have been running for several years in connivance with a section of politicians and police officers, and the encounters could be to “protect” those involved in these crimes.
Referring to the operations against cattle smuggling, Bhuyan said, the government should institute an inquiry into the alleged Rs 60,000 crore illegal dealings in the syndicate in the last five years. He pointed that the incumbent chief minister has himself claimed that Rs 1,000 crore illegal transactions happen per month in the cattle smuggling syndicate.
The BJP had led a coalition government in the state in the last five years and had retained power in this years state polls, with Sarma replacing Sarbananda Sonowal as the chief minister. “How can we be sure that those involved in cattle smuggling will not be killed in an encounter to erase all evidence?” Bhuyan questioned.
He also expressed apprehension that with the encounters becoming a “pattern”, these could soon be used for vindictive purposes.
Pointing out that the ways to deal with a criminal are elaborated under different sections of IPC, CrPC, and Police Manual, the AJP leader alleged that the chief ministers statement of July 5 could lead to a mindset among the police officers in favour of encounters. “If any convict or accused is to die in police firing other than the conditions specified under the law, the police officers have to face charges of culpable homicide,” Bhuyan said.
The AJP leader also criticised the chief ministers recent statement undermining the power and role of an MLA in a democratic set-up. “The executive, the legislature, and the judiciary are the pillars of democracy. The CMs statement that the officers will not listen to the MLAs but only work at the instruction of the ministers negates the importance of the legislature. The power to hand out death sentence given to the police by the chief minister has also clearly done away with the judiciarys role,” he claimed.
The AJP leader added that the message that the chief minister is sending that only the executive is important is against our Constitution and the AJP strongly opposes it.