THE UTTAR Pradesh State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has started a probe into four alleged police encounters following complaints by family members that they were fake. One of the complainants is the employer of an alleged criminal who was killed, who has said that the latter was picked up from Kanpur by police and shown killed in Azamgarh the next day.
As many as 43 alleged criminals have been killed in police encounters in Uttar Pradesh since March 20 last year. Ten have been killed this year, including one on March 5.
The four encounters the SHRC is investigating are of Mukesh Rajbhar, Jai Hind Yadav and Ramji Pasi in Azamgarh district, and Aadesh Yadav alias Sunder in Etawah district. In all four, the sequence of events as mentioned in the FIRs, as per SHRC sources, is the same: that suspects riding on motorcycles were intercepted by a police team during checking following a tip-off; that instead of stopping, the suspects opened fire at police; that police fired in retaliation, in which one of the suspects was killed while his associates escaped leaving behind the vehicle and firearms; and that in the cross-firing, policemen suffered injuries.
The Indian Express found that the injured policemen were discharged from hospital within days, and that in three of the four cases, the identities of the “associates” remain unknown.
“Reports have been sought from District Magistrates of Etawah and Azamgarh on the four encounter killings,” a senior SHRC official said.
Jai Hind Yadav, 22: Khilwa village, Tarwa police station area, Azamgarh
Named in 13 criminal cases (including attempt to murder, and under Gangster Act, Arms Act). Reward: Rs 15,000
Quoting from the FIR, police say they laid a trap for Yadav near Ramghat Khuti village in Mehnagar police station area on August 3 last year following a tip-off. In the afternoon, the policemen reportedly spotted a motorcycle with three people on it, and signalled it to stop. The FIR says the three men instead opened fire, and in the retaliatory firing, ‘wanted criminal’ Jai Hind was killed while his associates fled, leaving the motorcycle behind.
In the firing, the FIR states, Mehnagar police station SHO Chandra Bhaskar Dwivedi and Constable Vinay Singh suffered a bullet injury each. Jai Hind’s father Shiv Pujan Yadav, a farmer belonging to Khilwa village, accuses police of kidnapping his son and later shooting him. “Since July (last year), I had not been keeping well. I had asked Jai Hind to take me to a doctor. We were to go to Azamgarh city. On August 3, at around 8.30 am, the two of us were waiting for transport on the Varanasi-Azamgarh highway, around 500 m from our village, when a few persons in plainclothes arrived in an SUV and dragged Jai Hind into the vehicle,” says Shiv Pujan.
“A few hours later, a villager informed me police had gunned down Jai Hind in an encounter,” says the 58-year-old, adding he had heard Jai Hind was shot 21 times.
The eldest of his five children, the 22-year-old was doing postgraduation and worked part-time to help run the house, Shiv Pujan adds. Denying any knowledge of the cases against Jai Hind, he says an earlier case in which police had jailed him was false. Shiv Pujan has complained to both the NHRC and SHRC.
Insisting it was a genuine encounter, Senior Sub-Inspector, Tarwa police station, Suresh Pandey says Jai Hind was wanted by police in a robbery case of May 10 last year in Azamgarh.
SHO Dwivedi, who was reportedly injured in the encounter, says they were in hospital for five days. About the “associates” with Jai Hindu, Dwivedi says “their identities could not be ascertained”.
Ramji Pasi, 33: Jiyapur village, Tarwa police station area, Azamgarh
Named in 10 criminal cases (including attempt to murder). Reward: Rs 12,000
As per the FIR, police say, on September 14 last year, they laid a trap near Shri Ramganj Bazaar in Gambhirpur police station area in Azamgarh for ‘wanted criminal’ Ramji Pasi, following a tip-off. It was evening by the time they spotted Ramji along with an aide on a motorcycle, police say. They waved the two to stop, adds the FIR, but they opened fire. In the cross-firing reportedly, Ramji was killed, his aide escaped, while Constable Vinod Pasi suffered bullet injuries in his stomach.
Police claim to have recovered a pistol and the motorcycle from the spot.
Ramji’s elder brother Devesh Saroj, the village head of Jiyapur, says police killed the 33-year-old in a fake encounter at the behest of his political opponents. “Ramji had become a member of the Jiyapur Block Development Committee in 2010, winning with a record margin,” Saroj says.
Doubting police claims of Ramji being a criminal, Saroj, 40, says that Ramji ran a grocery shop and was married with five children, the youngest just 13 months old. He also accuses police of harassing Ramji for months before the September encounter, forcing him to shift with his family to a neighbouring village.
“On September 12, Ramji along with his wife had gone to his in-laws house in Mehnagar area. The same day, a police team came to our house again and threatened to kill Ramji within three days,” claims Saroj, adding that he didn’t tell Ramji about this.
“On September 14 afternoon, Ramji left home to meet his friend at Imaliya village. Around two hours later, we were informed that police had killed him. After three days, I went to the spot, and locals denied having seen or heard anything. Police brought him in a vehicle there and shot him,” says Saroj, adding that they had sent complaints to the NHRC and SHRC.
Additional Superintendent of Police, Azamgarh, Narendra Pratap Singh says Ramji was a noted criminal, “who had created terror in the area”, and police had been looking for him since May last year in a looting case.
Constable Pasi, reportedly injured in the encounter, was hospitalised for four days.
About Ramji’s associate who escaped, ASP Singh identifies him as ‘Rakesh Pasi’, and says he carries a reward of Rs 50,000 on his head.
Mukesh Kumar Rajbhar, 23: Mutkallipur village, Pawai police station area, Azamgarh
Named in 8 criminal cases (including attempt to murder, loot, etc). Reward: Rs 50,000
Police say they had been looking for Mukesh for an attack on a constable posted at the Azamgarh district jail in January this year. A few days later, on January 26, as per the FIR, police laid a trap near Halwada village in Sidhari police station area of Azamgarh, acting on information. Late in the evening, the FIR says, the policemen spotted two people on a motorcycle. When signalled to stop, the duo on the bike reportedly opened fire and, in the retaliatory firing, police say, Mukesh was killed while his aide escaped. Police claimed recovery of a pistol and a motorcycle from the spot, and said Constable Uday Bhan was shot in the cross-firing.
Denying police claims, Mukesh’s elder brother Sarvesh says that for the last one year, he had been working at the house of a Kanpur Dehat-based businessman, Shiv Pratap Singh. “Around two weeks before the encounter, a police team came enquiring about Mukesh. My sister Laxmi (16) gave Shiv Pratap’s address to him. On January 26, we came to know that police had killed Mukesh in an encounter.”
Shiv Pratap too filed a complaint to the SHRC, saying, “Mukesh had been working at my place for the last one year. On January 26, around 9.30 am, Mukesh was standing outside my house when few persons came in plainclothes in an SUV and forcibly took him. I immediately informed the Superintendent of Police of Kanpur Dehat and also in-charge of local Akbarpur police station. Next morning, I came to know through Mukesh’s brother that police had killed him in an encounter.”
SP, Kanpur Dehat, Ratan Kant Pandey denies being contacted by anyone “in connection with Mukesh Kumar Rajbhar”.
Sarvesh, who has sent a complaint to the NHRC and SHRC, adds that while Mukesh had once been sent to jail in a case of motorcycle theft, “We have no information if he had more cases against him”.
Station Officer, Pawai police station, Praveen Kumar Yadav says Mukesh was wanted since January 22 after jail warder Man Singh Yadav identified him as the man who shot him. “Some people are falsely creating confusion over the encounter.”
Constable Bhan, reported injured in the encounter, remained in hospital for four days, say police.
About Mukesh’s aides, police say they could not be identified.
Aadesh Yadav alias Sunder, 23: Bhuta village, Chaubia police station area, Etawah district
Named in 12 criminal cases (including murder, kidnapping). Reward: Rs 12,000
Police say Aadesh had been on the run since escaping from police custody in September 2016. Quoting from the FIR, police say they got a tip-off he would be in Turiya locality in Bharthana police station area on September 18 morning last year. A team there spotted two persons on a motorcycle, the FIR says, and a cross-fire resulted when the duo did not stop despite being signalled. Aadesh was reportedly killed in the firing while his associate escaped. The FIR says Bakewar police station SHO Alok Rai and Sub-Inspectors Ravindra Yadav and Udayveer Singh were injured in the cross-firing, while two pistols and the motorcycle were recovered.
Ramveer Singh, the head of Aadesh’s Bhuta village, says that after his death, his mother Suhaga Devi, who has approached the SHRC, left the village. “We have no knowledge where she is staying at present.”
Aadesh’s elder brother Babloo is in jail while his father Ran Singh is also wanted by police, Ramveer adds.
Acting SHO of Barthana police station Inspector Indra Pal Singh says police had been looking for Aadesh as he had created terror in the locality and had escaped custody. “No one should raise any question on the encounter,” he adds.
The three policemen reported injured in the encounter were in hospital for two days.
About Yadav’s associates who “escaped”, Inspector Singh says they don’t know who they were so far.