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New Delhi:  The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)  has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the Government of Uttar Pradesh allegedly endorsing killings in encounters by police seeking improvement in law and order situation in the state. It has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh, calling for a detailed report in the matter within 6 weeks.

According to the official statistics, as reported on October 5, 2017, 433 such encounters had occurred over a period of six months starting from March, 2017, when the present government came into existence. A total 19 alleged criminals were killed in these encounters and 89 injured. Apart from this, 98 officials were also injured and one died, according to an NHRC release.

A news story of September 16, 2017, says that 15 persons had been killed in encounters since the new government came to power in Uttar Pradesh. The state government has reportedly described the encounters as an achievement and a proof of improvement in the law and order situation. The Chief Minister was quoted, in a newspaper on November 19, 2017, saying “Criminals will be jailed or killed in encounters”.

The Commission has noted that it has also received intimation about 22 encounter deaths from the State police authorities in 2017 till date, as per its standing guidelines. It has observed that even if the law and order situation is grave, the state can’t resort to such mechanism, which may result in the extra judicial killings of the alleged criminals. The reported statement of the Chief Minister tantamount to giving police and other state governed forces, a free hand to deal with the criminals at their will and, possibly, it may result into abuse of power by the public servants. It is not good for a civilized society to develop an atmosphere of fear, emerging out of certain policies adopted by the State, which may result into violation of their right to life and equality before law, the NHRC has observed.

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