Gangster Vikas Dubey, possibly the most wanted man for the last few days, has been killed in a police encounter. The car ferrying him allegedly upturned, he apparently tried to pull a runner, and the police were forced to shoot him. Right up until yesterday, there was talk of this exact situation playing out, what with the UP government’s violent crackdown on even petty criminals that has seen a record number of dubious encounters.
Here are some other ‘encounters’ that people raised doubts about.
1. Veerappan – Killed during gunfight with police, human rights groups claim he was killed after being tortured by the cops.
The notorious bandit, who managed to evade the police for over 3 decades, was finally lured into a trap in 2004. Upon being surrounded, he apparently started shooting, and was killed in the ensuing gunfight. However, human rights organisations have claimed that there was evidence he was killed in a fake encounter after being tortured by the police.
2. Sohrabuddin Sheikh – Killed in encounter on highway, powerful politicians accused of covering it up.
This notorious case is still fresh in the minds of many, as it was truly one of the leading examples of a politician-police-criminal nexus. Sheikh was allegedly an extortionist who was planning a murder. In 2005, the Gujarat police ATS took him away while he was on a public bus, and 3 days later he was killed in an encounter on a highway. However, the entire saga was allegedly exposed after some cops boasted about it to a journalist while drinking. Amit Shah was accused of sabotaging the Supreme Court inquiry into the matter. By 2017, pretty much everyone involved in the case had been acquitted due to lack of evidence.
3. Four accused in Hyderabad rape-murder case killed under bridge on a highway, police claim they tried to snatch guns.
In November last year, the gang rape and murder of a 26-year-old veterinary doctor led national outrage and immense pressure to nab the perpetrators. Soon after the Telangana Police caught them, the suspects were taken to the location for a reconstruction of the crime scene. Here, the police claim they tried to attack them, and all 4 were shot and killed in the conflict. While the killing was celebrated by many, there were also more sane voices that condemned the lack of due process, and questioned whether the men were even the real people behind the act.
4. Eight suspected terrorists shot dead after escaping Bhopal prison, video and audio tapes emerge showing encounter could have been staged.
In October 2016, Eight undertrial prisoners of Bhopal Central Jail were killed in a encounter after escaping from prison. However, leaked police control room audio clips and other videos show that there were orders from the top to kill these people as cops were angry over repeated prison breaks. A video also shows a police officer pumping bullets into one of the men who was already lying half dead.
5. The Batla House encounter, where it is alleged that the police killed 2 innocent students.
In 2008, two alleged Indian Mujahideen terrorists were killed after police stormed a house in the Batla house area of Delhi. Police officer Mohan C Sharma died as a result of the encounter. However, there were widespread protests and many questions asked about the veracity of the police’s official account. It was alleged that the 2 terrorists killed were actually students.
6. The Ishrat Jahan case, where she and 3 other men were killed by cops for alleged terrorist activities. This claim was disputed and has been a source of much controversy.
In 2004, 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan along with three men were killed by the Gujarat police as they believed that the four of them had plotted to assassinate then Gujarat CM Modi. However, the case turned murky soon after, with continuing allegations of police excess, and the fact that Ishrat might have been innocent. The trial is still underway, after all these years.
As the instances of these extra-judicial deaths increase, the questions surrounding them also get louder.