After the henchmen of dreaded gangster Vikas Dubey ambushed Uttar Pradesh police last week, six criminals have been killed in encounters. Vikas Dubey himself was killed early on July 10 after he reportedly tried to attack policemen while making an attempt to flee.
While the nation wanted to see the man behind the bars for killing policemen and politicians among others, extorting and much more, several persons have raised questions behind the alleged circumstances that led to the encounter.
It has left many surmising if the gangster was killed to hide a larger political nexus that might have been protecting him all along or if he could have revealed some other damning thought.
While all that goes to the grave with him, the encounter brings to mind several other such cases where the nation had doubted the credibility of the circumstances under which police had killed accused persons in the past. India has seen more than one thousand encounter killings over the past two decades, but only some of those caught public attention. Let us revisit some of such police encounters that led to raging controversies:
Veerappan encounter killing, 2004: Dreaded dacoit Veerappan was killed by a Special Task Force in an encounter. Some human rights activists had claimed that the circumstantial evidence leading to the encounter killing were not credible enough, while others alleged that Veerappan was killed in a fake encounter after being tortured by the Tamil Nadu police.
Ishrat Jahan encounter killing, 2004: Nineteen-year-old Ishrat Jahan, resident of Mumbai, was killed in an encounter in Gujarat, along with three other men. Police claimed that Ishrat Jahan was involved in a terror plot to assassinate the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, but several human rights activists and opposition parties had alleged that it was a targeted killing.
Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter killing, 2005: Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife were killed in an encounter by the Gujarat police, who claimed he was a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist and had links with the ISI and other underworld criminals. The case was handed over to the CBI later, who named the then Gujarat home minister Amit Shah and 21 other persons guilty in the 'fake' encounter case. However, all of them were later acquitted due to a lack of evidence.
Lakhan Bhaiya encounter case, 2006: A member of don Chhota Rajan’s gang, Ramnarayan Gupta aka Lakhan Bhaiya was killed in an encounter by the Mumbai Police. An enquiry into the encounter had revealed that he was killed at point-blank range by the police and it was not an encounter at all. Seven years later, 21 people including 13 policemen were found guilty and convicted.
Warrangal encounter killing, 2008: The Andhra Pradesh police had shot dead three men accused of throwing acid on two college students, who had turned down the proposal of one of the accused. While the police claimed to have shot the three men in an act of self-defence, many wondered if it was done to appease the public.
Batla House encounter or Operation Batla House, 2008: After serial blasts rocked the country towards the end of 2008, seven officers of Delhi Police claimed they have found out the hiding place of the members of an Indian Mujahideen sleeper cell that was responsible for the macabre plots. They claimed that the suspected terrorists were hiding at a flat in Jamia Nagar’s Batla House. A 20-minute encounter followed after the police reached the hideout, in which two suspected terrorists were killed – one of them a minor, other an MA student. The evidence produced later to establish a link of the youths with plotting terror were sketchy and several politicians had also raised questions about the credibility of the claims of the Delhi Police.Hyderabad encounter killings, 2019:
A young doctor was gang-raped and murdered by a group of four youths in November last year. Her charred body was found later, and it enraged the entire nation. After over a week of the incident, the four accused persons were reportedly nabbed by the Cyberabad Police and killed in an encounter when they tried to escape during the spot verification exercise. Once again, public sentiment was in favour of the encounter, but the circumstances remained dubious. Many even questioned if the police had nabbed the persons guilty of raping and murdering the doctor, or they just encountered four suspected youth without probing enough, just to pacify the public.