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UP Police shot 3,300 ‘criminals’ in 8,472 encounters under operation ‘Langda’

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Bahraich: Ever since the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh, the state Police have reportedly shot at and injured at least 3,302 alleged criminals in around 8,472 encounters, leaving several of them limping with bullet wounds on their legs. Meanwhile, the death toll from these encounters stands at 146. It, however, does not exist officially but in private, some senior officials in UP refers to it as “Operation Langda (Lame)”.

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Where senior police officers deny any specific strategy to maim criminals in encounters as a deterrent for others, the police also reported have no data on how many were left disabled after sustaining bullet injuries on their legs during these encounters. Instead, they point out that 13 police personnel were killed and 1,157 more injured in these encounters that have led to arrests of 18,225 criminals.

Furthermore, Prashant Kumar, UP Police ADG (Law & Order) said the high number of those injured in police encounters suggests that killing criminals is not the primary motive of police but to arrest the person is.

“The UP government has a zero-tolerance policy towards crime and criminals. While on duty, if somebody fires at us, we retaliate, and that is a legal power given to the police. During this process, there can be collateral injuries and deaths. Our people have also been killed and injured. The bottom line is that if someone does something illegal, the police react. However, our main motive is not to kill the person but to make an arrest,” Mr Kumar said.

“There is a set procedure based on Supreme Court guidelines on what to do if an encounter killing takes place. Other than that, every encounter goes through a magisterial inquiry. In court, the victims have all the right to present their case. However, till date, no Constitutional institution has said anything adverse against UP Police encounters,” the ADG further said.

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The Supreme Court, in January 2019, while referring to a string of such killings said they require “serious consideration”. The Opposition parties, too, have spoken out often against these killings, describing them as the state government’s “thok do” (finish them off) policy.

But, with the next state elections around the corner, officers in Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s government have celebrated these encounters as an achievement. Additionally,

Uttar Pradesh has seen a spike in encounter killings by police since the advent of the Yogi Adityanath government in 2017. In fact, a month after assuming office in March 2017, Adityanath had said the police would not hesitate to knock criminals down “if they did not mend their ways”.

Notably, the Meerut zone in western UP tops the list with 2,839 encounters, 5,288 arrests, 61 deaths and 1,547 injured, according to reports. After Meerut comes Agra, in the same region, with 1,884 encounters, 4,878 arrests, 18 deaths and 218 injuries. While third on the list is Bareilly zone, with 1,173 encounters, 2,642 arrests, seven deaths and 299 injuries.

The Meerut zone also saw the highest number of police personnel injured with 435 cops wounded, followed by Bareilly at 224 and Gorakhpur at 104.

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The highest number of police fatalities was recorded in the Kanpur zone — all the eight on the list were killed in the 2020 Bikru village encounter during the police operation to nab gangster Vikas Dubey. Dubey, who later surrendered in Madhya Pradesh, was killed in another police encounter while being brought to Uttar Pradesh.

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