Due process of law and all guidelines issued by the NHRC are being followed in all cases of police encounters that have taken place in Assam since May last year, the state government claimed in an affidavit filed before the Gauhati High Court.
In the affidavit filed in connection with a PIL, the Assam government informed the court that 28 people have been killed and 73 others injured in police action from May 10 last year, when Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma assumed charge, till January 28 this year.
The Assam government on February 7 filed the "detailed affidavit", a copy of which is available with PTI, as sought by the Gauhati High Court, which on Tuesday deferred the hearing of the PIL related to the encounters till February 10.
"...due process of law and procedure established by law, including the guidelines issued by the NHRC, are being complied with by the district police," Home & Political Department Additional Secretary Ashim Kumar Bhattacharyya said in the affidavit.
He said that as per the directions of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the six-monthly "return" is also being regularly submitted and the last such report was submitted by the Assam Police on September 2 last year.
"...FIRs have been registered in each and every case and investigations are being carried out to take the cases to logical conclusions. In all total, 28 nos. of death and 73 nos. of injuries have taken place in police action, since May 2021 till 28-01-2022," the affidavit said.
In a table annexed with the affidavit, the government provided district-wise details of these encounters.
It showed that the incidents of police firing took place across 27 districts and the highest number of 10 people were killed in Karbi Anglong, while a maximum of nine injuries were reported in Guwahati.
The affidavit further stated that the Home & Political Department carried out an inquiry as per the order of the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) after it took suo motu cognisance and the report was submitted to the body on October 30 last year.
"...it is stated that the Government of Assam has so far designated 12 (Twelve) nos. of Court of Sessions at Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Nagaon, Tezpur, Dhubri, Silchar, Tinsukia, North Lakhimpur, Mangaldoi, Goalpara, Nalbari and Bongaigaon as Human Rights Court," it added.
These courts were designated as per the provision of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 for the districts of Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Dhubri, Cachar, Tinsukia, Lakhimpur, Darrang, Goalpara, Nalbari and Bongaigaon in 1996 and 1998.
The Public Interest Litigation (No. 86/2021) was filed by advocate Arif Md Yeasin Jwadder. Besides the Assam government, Assam Police DGP, state Law and Justice Department, NHRC and AHRC have been named as respondents in the petition.
Jwadder, in his petition, sought an inquiry by an independent agency such as CBI, SIT or any other police teams from other states under the supervision of the court.
He has also sought a judicial inquiry by a sitting judge of the Gauhati High Court into the incidents and monetary compensation to the victims' families after due verification.
Jwadder claimed in the PIL that more than 80 "fake encounters" have taken place, resulting in 28 deaths and injuries to 48 people.
The people killed or injured were not dreaded criminals and the modus operandi of police has been the same in all the encounters, the PIL said.
The petition elaborated that as per police statements published in newspapers, the accused tried to snatch service revolvers of the police personnel and in self-defence, police had to retaliate and kill or injure the alleged criminal.
Jwadder cast doubt on the contention and said that as the injured or dead persons were not militants, they were not trained to use pistols and it cannot be the case that all the accused could snatch a service revolver from a trained police officer, whose pistols are normally tied to a rope to their waist belt.
Earlier, the petitioner had filed a complaint over the alleged fake encounters with the NHRC on July 10.
The NHRC, in November last year, transferred the case to the AHRC, which had also taken suo motu action on the alleged fake encounters and asked for a report from the Assam government.
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