Telangana: Police encounter is blatant mockery of justice

The encounter killing of the four rape-accused in Hyderabad last week can be termed cold-blooded murders of the suspects. The four were not even given their basic democratic right of being heard

Representative Image (social media)
Representative Image (social media)

Humra Quraishi

Writing this on Human Rights Day. Why should only one solitary day be reserved for the basic rights of the human being! More so when in our country, it’s becoming easier for the State machinery to kill a living human than to kill a tiny little mosquito!

Yes, that is the reality of the day, when the State and its Agencies are killing human being under any possible pretext. The so-called encounter killings of the four rape-accused in Hyderabad last week can be termed cold-blooded murders of the suspects. The four were not even given their basic democratic right of being heard. In fact, the manner in which they were killed by the police force raised several questions over whether they were the actual rapists or they were framed! Next time the cops could even pick up the alleged or suspect rapists from slums and mohallas, and even before they can be heard (that is, they are allowed to even squeak or whisper) they’d be done away with it! Killed in an encounter! With the actual rapists sitting up there on those powerful slots!

And then the State even flaunts its encountering prowess! If one were to focus on the state of affairs in the state of Uttar Pradesh, it is the state police that has been indulging in killings out there in the open. Didn’t as many as 1,142 encounters take place between March 2017 and January 2018, in the state of Uttar Pradesh?

To quote these figures from the PUCL findings on encounters taking place in Uttar Pradesh: Since March 2017 till January 2018, 49 people have been killed in over 1,100 encounters. More than 370 have been injured and over 3,300 arrested across the state. Tell me, how many of the killed could have been innocents and not hardened criminals? But even a criminal needs to be given that chance to be heard and not get gunned down.

And if we look at the encounter killings in the so-labelled disturbed areas or the conflict zones, then it almost impossible to pinpoint the exact numbers, as there’s almost no transparency. Anyone can be gunned down on mere suspicion of being a militant or even on the pretext of chanting Azaadi!

Its about time to re-think using the military and paramilitary to crush the civilian outcry. The ongoing atrocities on the civilian population compound because of the impunity provided to the forces under AFSPA.

AFSPA gives special powers to the army and state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the Home ministry. Security forces can “arrest without warrant” a person, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even on “reasonable suspicion”. It also protects them from legal processes for actions taken under the act.

Don’t know how many encounter survivors have been left alive enough to write the actual details of the encounter…I have come across only one such survivor. In fact, one of the most chilling descriptions of an encounter taking place is detailed in the book written by the victim himself, Mufti Abdul Qayyum Ahmed Husain Mansuri, who was implicated in the Akshardham case, imprisoned for 11 years, till acquitted by the Supreme Court of India.

I had met and interviewed him two summers back when his book was launched in New Delhi. Quoting his encounter details from his book ‘I Am A Mufti & I Am Not A Terrorist -11 Years Behind the Bars ’- “It was the cold night of Thursday,18 September 2003, I was sleeping in Vanaar’s office in such position/condition that one of my hands was cliffed and locked with the table. I was asleep with great difficulty when one of the officers awakened me by kicking me on my back with his shoes. Singhal was standing in front of me and the best kind of Oudh’s fragrance was witting from his clothes. Behind Singhal, one face was seen. He was VD Vanaar. On Singhal’s order, the hand cliff was unlocked from my hand. VD Vanaar took me along and said, ‘come on, its Sahab’s order today your encounter has to be done. I was told you offer namaaz /salah for dead persons, today offer namaaz for yourself. I was pushed to sit in a Tata Sumo…After misfiring on me on one or two places, Vanaar asked for the revolver from P.S.I. , R.I. Patel and after directing the vehicle ( Tata Sumo ) on two, three roads, told the driver to take it near the canal.

On the way, Vanaar also narrated the legend of his mastery in encounters and the allotment of medals from the government. He said: ‘see I have killed Hameed Lala. I have killed Ranapwala here on the stairs of the crime branch, and he counted some more names and said even after so many encounters what harm the government and the court done to me, on the contrary, I was given bravery medal of ‘Puraskar’ and 51,000 – as an award. Today this encounter of yours is the sixth one.

‘Tomorrow we will give this story to the media and newspapers that going for investigation in the case, on getting a chance he ran away, somehow he got a revolver from somewhere and fired on us and on backfiring (from us) he was shot…The vehicle was stopped at one place in the dark night. As per my assumption, it was someplace behind the airport because the lights of the airport were seen from there, on both sides of the road there was the canal...Then they led the vehicle deep inside on the other side of the canal, on the left side and all the bravos got down from the vehicle after stopping it at a vast open space and they also got me down by pulling my beard and abusing me…Vanaar took out the revolver and told his companions to move aside a bit after he aimed the revolver on my head…I was standing alive dumb with amazement and astonished because the bullet did not strike my head but had passed by my head.

After that, totally five fires were shot on my right and left head and on the left and right of my legs ….Until now, Mr AA Chauhan, being a silent audience in this blood-shedding drama, took entry on the scene. He came forward and said, Vanaar Sahab don’t kill him. I want to give him the last chance, after talking to a superior officer. Then asked me, turning towards me – if you confess all that the superior office says then I can save your life…”

Leaving you with this verse of poet Habib Jalib –

Crime /

‘Why did you allow yourself to be killed?’ /

Is the charge for which I am billed./

Now lawyers are arguing amongst themselves: /

‘This small trouble that the killer had to take,/

This little dent that the dagger suffered, /

Who should be made to compensate?’

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