WHEN a Chief Minister announces, “Agar apradh karenge to thok diye jayenge”, the state police, without doubt, becomes trigger-happy.

The killing of ”hardened” criminals in Uttar Pradesh is now listed as a major achievement of the government and even as opposition parties berate the Yogi Adityanath government for the spate of killings that happen in the name of encounters, the government thinks otherwise.

The killing of Pushpendra Yadav, 28, in Jhansi on Sunday, is an example of the state”s ”encounter politics”.

While the police maintain that Pushpendra was killed in an encounter, his family insists that he was killed because he refused to bribe a police office. Pushpendra ran a sand business and the police have named him as a ”mining mafia”.

Yogi Adityanath, when he came to power in 2017, resolved to improve the law and order situation. His ”thok do” (shoot them) policy led to a spate of encounters.

Known as a ”strong man who tolerates no nonsense” in Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath proudly informed journalists, earlier this year, that more than 3,000 encounters had taken place in his regime in which 69 criminals were gunned down, 838 sustained injuries and 7,043 were arrested.

As many as 11,981 criminals got their bails cancelled and surrendered in court as the government completed its two years in office.

The UP Police now refuse to give updated figures in the matter and the Chief Minister insists that crime is now under control.

The encounter policy is being stretched to limits that can be even termed as ridiculous.

For instance, in Sambhal in October last year, during an encounter, policemen shouted ”thain thain” to scare off criminals when their revolver got jammed. A video recording of this ”encounter” went viral on the social media.

Yogi Adityanath”s encounter policy, however, has also been questioned.

Last year, a news portal published a ground report in which it claimed that 14 encounters in western UP were found to be ”pre-planned”.

“Out of the 14 cases of police encounter killings that the portal investigated in four districts of western Uttar Pradesh, 11 had the same pattern.

“The victims were in the age group of 17 to 40. They were all under-trials in a number of cases. Just before each encounter, the police received a tip off about their location. They were either on a bike or a car. As soon as the police tried to stop them on the road, they started firing. In retaliatory fire, the accused received bullet injuries and were declared dead on arrival at the hospital,” the report said.

Taking cognizance of the report, the Office of the High Commissioner for United Nations Human Rights (OHCHR) sent a letter expressing its concern over ”these extra-judicial killings”.

But Yogi Adityanath remained unfazed.

“The fact remains that criminals have gone into hiding or are in jail. People are feeling safe and secure. In dealing with the law and order, we have not even spared our own party workers if they have been involved. Strict action is taken in cases of crime. Those who are criticizing us should look back at the SP and BSP regimes when extortion, murder, rape was the order of the day,” he said.

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav though said: “Never before had the police been so uncontrolled. The Chief Minister”s ”thok do” policy has given the licence to kill to cops.”

Giving an example, the SP leader said, “In Azamgarh, one Jaihind Yadav was killed two years ago. He was picked up from home and a few hours later, the family came to know that he was killed in police encounter. The police claimed that Jaihind fired at them and was killed in retaliatory firing.”

DGP O.P. Singh said, “We have also lost many members of the force. We are probing every case of fake encounter. The cops are punished if they do anything illegal. Encounters take place only when the criminal fires at the cops. You cannot expect the cops to take the bullet lying down.”

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