Is Assam Police under CM Himanta following UP ‘style’ of policing?

Has Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma started following Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s methods to ‘reduce crimes and deal with criminals’ in the state.

In the first 10 months of the Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, there were more than 1,100 police shootings and encounters in Uttar Pradesh which caused the death of at least 34 accused/criminals and injured 265 others.

On the other hand, in last 40-45 days since the second BJP-led government came to power in Assam, at least 22 police shootings and encounter incidents have been taken place in the state.

The police firings and encounters in Assam have caused the death of several criminals and left many others injured.

According to the reports, at least 12 suspected militants and alleged criminals have been killed since May this year. During the period, many accused are held in custody for crimes ranging from rape, kidnapping, illegal drugs trade to cattle smuggling.

The opposition has raised questions over the police firings and encounters and slammed the BJP-led Assam government. Hitting out at Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who also holds the Home portfolio, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) MLA Rafiqul Islam said that, Sarma is now following Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and trying to merge executive and judicial system.

“You (Himanta Biswa Sarma) are talking about the two-child policy, introduced the cow protection bill and the police in the state is becoming trigger-happy, just like what Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has adopted. You should have discussed with all 125 MLAs of Assam for all-round development in the state, to fight crimes… We are ready to support you. I want to request the Assam chief minister that, please don’t follow Yogi ji blindly. If you will follow Yogi then your boat will also be sink like what is happening with Yogi ji now,” Rafiqul Islam said.

The AIUDF MLA alleged that, the present Assam government is now trying to merge the executive and judicial system.

“We have seen that many police encounters have taken place in the state in the last few days. If police use judicial powers against the accused persons on grounds, then it will be wrong. We are against crimes and criminals. But they should be punished through the judicial system. Killing a person in an encounter before he is proven guilty is human rights violation,” Rafiqul Islam said.

On July 5, while addressing the first-ever conference with officers-in-charge (OCs) of all police stations in the state in Guwahati, CM Himanta Biswa Sarma directed the OCs to file chargesheets of all rape, molestation, assault etc cases at the earliest along with murder, arms, drugs smuggling cases within the period of next six months. He said that police should approach a zero-tolerance policy against crimes and criminals.

“Today, some people told me that, these days people are running away from police and many shooting incidents have taken place, is it becoming a pattern? I told them, yes this should be the policing pattern. If a rapist runs away, try to snatch arms from police, police will have to fire, but not on the chest. The law says that you can shoot at the legs. We want to transform Assam Police into one of the best policing organization in the country,” Himanta Biswa Sarma had said.

Hitting out at the opposition, Assam water resources minister and spokesperson of the state government, Pijush Hazarika, had said that, some opposition leaders who are opposing the policing act, they might have the relation with the criminals.

“Criminals should be punished. Don’t give free hand to the criminals. Some people are saying that criminals should not be shot at. If criminals will fire at the cops, they will have to retaliate. Some opposition leaders are saying that, if criminals target our police personnel, then police should keep silent. I think that, they might have relations with the criminals,” Pijush Hazarika had said.

Meanwhile, the Assam Human Rights Commission has directed the state government to inquire into several incidents of police firing in which 12 militants and alleged criminals were killed and few others injured. The commission directed the government to submit a report within a month.

About Hemanta Kr Nath

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Hemanta Kumar Nath is a Guwahati-based journalist. He had worked with India Blooms News Service (IBNS), Meghalaya Times, Global News Network among others.

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