- Video in Aligarh shows policemen taking aim and firing
- The police claim they had been looking for the accused
- They were accused in at least six murders in the last month
Two men were shot dead by the Uttar Pradesh police today in an early morning encounter that is on camera as journalists were "invited" before the shooting and allowed to film it.
Video footage from the encounter site in Aligarh shows policemen armed with guns taking aim and firing.
The police claim they had been looking for the two men -- Mustakim and Naushad -- for some days.
They were accused in at least six murders in the last month, the police said. Two of their victims were Hindu priests, according to the police.
"This happened around 6:30 in the morning. Two men on a bike passed a police team and when we tried to stop them, they fired at us. We gave chase and they went and hid in an abandoned government office building about four kilometres away. They were firing at us from there too. We got reinforcements. When we fired, both of these people got hit and they were declared dead in hospital. One of our officers was also wounded," said Ajay Sahni, Aligarh's police chief.
Yesterday, five other people -- all Muslims -- had been arrested for the six murders over the last month.
Among those killed were two Hindu priests, a couple and two farmers. The police said the victims were chosen at random by the accused; they were trying to frame a witness in a 2016 murder case involving one of the accused.
The UP government says 66 people have been killed in police encounters since March 2017, when Yogi Adityanath took charge as chief minister. The number of encounters is well over 1,000 -- hundreds of criminals have been arrested, the police say.
Recently, Uttar Pradesh police chief OP Singh had said police encounters were part of a well chalked out "strategy" to arrest hardened criminals.
The top cop said four policemen were killed and over 500 people injured in these operations. "Encounters are part of crime prevention. The fact is that this is a not a state policy, but a police strategy. We do not call it encounter but police engagement. We are engaged with the criminals in a very professional and strategic manner," Mr Singh had said.