A total of 146 criminals have been killed while over 3,300 injured in encounters with the Uttar Pradesh Police since 2017, after the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government came to power in the state. Interestingly, most of the criminals injured in the encounters have been shot on their legs. According to a report by The Indian Express, this is unofficially called “Operation Langda (lame)” by senior police officials of the state.
As per the official figures, since March 2017, UP Police have shot at and injured at least 3,302 alleged criminals in 8,472 encounters, with several of them left with bullet injuries on their legs.
Here is a look at the last four encounters which took place between June 22 and August 12:
Parashuram, a rape accused, sustained bullet wounds on his leg during a police encounter on June 22. According to the police, the encounter took place after the accused tried to escape from custody.
On August 4, Sachin Chauhan, a rape accused, was shot at on his leg during a police encounter in Noida. Officials said Chauhan opened fire at a police team that nabbed him later.
Maniram, wanted in 35 criminal cases and carrying a reward of Rs 50,000, was also shot at on the leg in a police encounter after he allegedly opened fire at the team that surrounded him. Afsharun, another wanted criminal and carrying a reward of Rs 50,000, was also arrested in a police encounter after suffering bullet injuries on his leg.
The UP Police officially denies of following a specific strategy to nab criminals in encounters as deterrents for others. Also, they have not maintained any official data of how many of these criminals arrested in encounters sustained bullet injuries on their legs.
Meanwhile, the official data shows that 13 police personnel were killed and 1,157 injured in these encounters in which 18,225 criminals were arrested.
The Indian Express quoted Prashant Kumar, UP Police ADG (Law & Order), as saying that the high number of injuries in police encounters shows that killing criminals in the primary motive of the police, and rather arrest them.
“The UP government has a zero-tolerance policy towards crime and criminals. While on duty, if somebody fires at us, we retaliate, and that is a legal power given to the police. During this process, there can be collateral injuries and deaths. Our people have also been killed and injured. The bottom line is that if someone does something illegal, the police react. However, our main motive is not to kill the person but to make an arrest,” Kumar was quoted as saying.
“There is a set procedure based on Supreme Court guidelines on what to do if an encounter killing takes place. Other than that, every encounter goes through a magisterial inquiry. In court, the victims have all the right to present their case. However, till date, no Constitutional institution has said anything adverse against UP Police encounters,” he added.
While the Supreme Court as well as the Opposition have questioned these killings, officers in the Yogi government, eyeing the upcoming assembly elections, have boasted of these encounters as an achievement towards the poll promise in 2017.
In several public interviews, Adityanath himself has issued stern warnings, saying that the police would not hesitate to knock down criminals “if they did not mend their ways.”
A highlight of the UP Police’s encounter strategy has been the killing of gangster Vikas Dubey, who after being on a run for several days, was nabbed in Madhya Pradesh and later killed in an encounter while being brought to UP last year. Several questions were raised on the Dubey’s encounter in which the police said that the car bringing the wanted criminal back to the state overturned, and Dubey was killed while trying to escape from their custody.