File photo: Himanta Biswa Sarma

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma justified the police firings and ‘encounters’ that have taken place in the state in the last few weeks and hinted that this kind of action will be continued against the criminals.

Though some MLAs and human rights activists have raised their voices against such action, Sarma said that attacks on the Assam Police will be “retaliated” and “extreme steps” as per the law will be taken to stop such criminals.

“Any attack on the police will be retaliated against. The Assam Police cannot be a mute spectator when their service revolvers are snatched or culprits try to flee,” he said.

Sarma said that one person has been killed and seven others have been injured for their alleged involvement in drug rackets since he assumed power on May 10. He was replying to a Zero-Hour discussion on narcotic drugs initiated by AGP MLA Prodip Hazarika at the Assam assembly on July 14.

Sarma said that the government has announced a zero-tolerance policy towards narcotic drugs and as long as he is in power, “this will go on”.

Congress MLAs Sherman Ali Ahmed and Rakibul Hussain raised the issue of a rising number of encounters, and said that police, as per the law, can open fire below the waist to stop an accused.

Responding to this, the Assam chief minister said: “My clear order is – don’t break the law. Do everything under the law and take extreme steps to stop such criminals.”

He informed the house that the Assam Police have registered 1,021 cases related to the drugs trade and arrested 1,897 people in the last two months.

Taking suo moto cognisance, the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has asked the state government to institute an enquiry into the circumstances that led to the deaths and injuries in police encounters in the last two months.

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