Lucknow: After the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government came to power in Uttar Pradesh with a promise to improve law and order, encounters have been taken up as part of a new strategy to control crime, the police have said. Data released by the government today said more than 430 encounters have been carried out over the last six months, which roughly means one encounter happened every 12 hours.
Last week, a senior officer of the police, Anand Kumar, said encounters will continue in the days to come. The government has also allowed district police chiefs to announce rewards of upto Rs 1 lakh for a team that carries out an encounter.
"Today, the people are secure and safe. The police used to be scared that if we act against criminals, we will be acted against. We have changed that. The police is leading from the front," Yogi Adityanath said at a press conference this evening as his government completed six months.
According to data released by the UP Police, between March 20 and September 18, there have been 431 encounters, in which 17 criminals were killed; two policemen died and 88 were injured; so far, 1,106 criminals have been caught.
The police say the number of encounters and arrests in such a short period are unprecedented. Data from previous years is unavailable in public domain.
The last encounter took place in Etawah on Monday. Sundar Yadav, 27, was facing cases of murder, loot, dacoity and kidnapping. He was shot after he opened fire at policemen checking vehicles near a river, the police said, and died at a hospital in Etawah.
Two days ago, Jan Mohammed, who faces 24 cases of murder and robbery, was killed by the Muzaffarnagar police. "We don't want to injure or kill anyone. The effort is to arrest. But if criminals fire at us, we have to fire back," said Anant Deo, a senior police officer who led the operation.
The opposition has questioned the number of encounters cited by the government. The Samajwadi Party, which was trounced by the BJP in the assembly elections held in March, has called it a "dangerous trend" is to use encounters as a "yardstick to maintain law and order in UP".
"Maybe the lines have already been crossed. The officer on the ground is under pressure to add to the statistics and present them before the government and that is very worrying," said Samajwadi Party spokesperson Juhi Singh.