On June 5, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chief Minister, Assam, was asked about the recent cases where arrested or under trial criminals were fired at while trying to flee. Answering the question if that was a pattern, Sarma said, “this should be a pattern if someone were trying to flee.” He was addressing a conference ‘Redefining Policing Standards in Assam’. All officers in charge of police stations across the state attended the meeting.
The Assam CM further added that if someone snatches weapons from the Police and trying to escape, and on top of that, he is a rapist, Police cannot shoot him in the chest, but shooting at the leg is the law. Notably, Sarma holds the State Home Ministry too. He added that he wanted Police to get more strict with those indulged in cattle-smuggling.
He said, “Those who smuggle cows should be caught at all costs… I don’t even want it to go to the charge sheet stage because our cows need to be protected,” he said, adding, “A cow is like a god to us.” CM Sarma asked the officers-in-charge of districts bordering West Bengal and Bangladesh to note his instructions about cattle smugglers.
CM Dr @himantabiswa held a meeting with Officers-in-Charge of @assampolice on 'Redefining policing standards in Assam'. The CM made several important announcements and issued advisories during the meeting. pic.twitter.com/MYXDq4lkLV— Chief Minister Assam (@CMOfficeAssam) July 5, 2021
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma also holds the Home portfolio.
Recent incidents of under-custody criminals getting gunshot wounds
Sarma took charge of the state as CM in May. After assuming the office, Sarma announced a massive drive against cattle smuggling, drug trafficking and other organized crimes in the state. In recent weeks several incidents have come to light where criminals involved in rape, murder, cattle-smuggling and drug peddling allegedly tried to escape from the custody and received gunshot wounds. Reportedly, 12 suspected militants and criminals have died in the shooting incidents. Several others accused of rape and cattle smuggling have been injured.
The opposition in Assam has accused the state police f being ‘trigger happy’, but the state police have refuted those allegations saying that those were genuine cases where criminals were trying to flee and police officials were forced by the circumstances to resort to firing.
‘Shooting should be the pattern if criminals trying to flee after attacking policemen’
CM Sarma said, “Today, if two kidnappers are nabbed, and they retaliate, the policeman has no choice but to fire, otherwise the policeman himself will die.” He further added when someone asks him if shooing incidents are becoming a pattern in the state, he says that it should be a pattern if the criminal tries to escape police custody. “But before doing what law has permitted us to do, we must keep our conscience clear that our work is for the good of the people and not to serve any interest of our own,” Sarma said.
He further added that the state would take a zero-tolerance approach towards any criminal who tries to escape. Later, while talking to the reporters, he emphasized that Police do not have authority for encounters. In a democracy, crime is fought through law and not encounter. These happen only when there are no other means,” he added. He also added that the charge sheets against the accused involved in rape, murder, arms, drugs, extortion should be completed in six months. He said, “Criminal cases in Assam will come down by 50 per cent if the charge sheet is filed quickly.”
Sarma also urged the Police officials to complete the passport verification process in seven days unless there is some doubt. He further talked about the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and said it is not final. He said, “Just because your name is on the NRC does not mean you are Indian. If you feel someone’s background is doubtful, leave them out. But for khilonjiya (indigenous) people, do not take time to do the verification.”
Additional Funds for all police stations
Sarma announced a fund of Rs.2.5 lakh for each Police station annually to meet recurring expenses such as fortnightly medical check-ups of all staff.