The Assam government has intensified the crackdown on hardened criminals and terrorists in the state soon after the new government took charge and Himanta Biswa Saram assumed power.
As per reports, about 23 such criminals have been shot in various encounters and conflicts since May 10. They were accused of rape, murder, dacoity, drug peddling, and cattle smuggling. The Assam police had so far neutralised 5 criminals, besides killing 10 terrorists during encounters. Although the Opposition and Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has cried foul over these encounters, the Assam government has provided the police force with ‘full operational liberty’ as long as their actions are within the law.
Himanta Biswa Sarma minces no words
On Thursday (July 15), Himanta Biswa Sarma clarified, “As a leader of the House, I thank and congratulate the Assam police for its work as whole and especially in my tenure. I want to tell the DGP that do not torture innocent people. You have full operational liberty as long as you fight against the criminals as per the law. As the chief minister of the state and with full sense of responsibility, I want to say that we have zero tolerance towards cow smuggling, drug trade, human trafficking, crime against women and children, and all crimes will be dealt with heavily and firmly irrespective of religion and caste.”
He informed the State Assembly that 504 people had been arrested for cattle smuggling in the past 2 months and only four people sustained injuries during police encounters. Himanta Biswa Sarma further told that while sympathy was important, misplaced sympathies for criminals could be dangerous. The Assam government had also launched a ‘War on Drugs’ and arrested 1897 people in this regard in the past 2 months. About 15 people had been arrested under provisions meant for habitual drug offenders that allow for detention without trial.
Earlier on July 5, Himanta Biswa Sarma directed the police chiefs of all stations in Assam to register a charge sheet within 6 months of lodging an FIR in cases of rape, murder, smuggling, and assault. He added, “Today, some people told me that multiple police shooting incidents have taken place in the last few days and if it is becoming a pattern to deal with criminals. I told them, yes. This should be the policing pattern from now on. If a rapist runs away, tries to snatch arms from the cops, they will have to fire, but not on the chest. The law says you can shoot at the legs. We want to transform the Assam Police into one of the best policing organisations in the country.”
Change in stance of Assam govt under Himanta Biswa Sarma
As per a report in India Today, Assam has witnessed one police encounter on every alternate day, ever since Himanta Biswa Sarma became the CM of the State. During these encounters, about 1300 people were arrested while several others were injured/killed. The change in the stance of the Assam government is reflected in the data under the administration of Sarbananda Sonowal. In just 2 months since May 2021, about 15 criminals have been neutralised so far. However, under the Sonowal administration in 2016, only 16 people were killed in the entire year.
India today has even quoted an anonymous police officer who informed that encounters were commonplace even during the Sonowal administration. “If you look at the year 2016 or 2017, some police firing, encounter incidents did occur. However, the operations were mostly conducted by the Assam Police against extremists. Back then, dealing with extremists was our top priority. Many extremists were killed and many injured in police operations. Some police firings also took place against criminals, but such instances were few,” he added.
Opposition, AHCR criticise govt move
The Opposition parties in Assam have criticised the Himanta-Biswa Sarma government for following the Yogi Adityanath model in UP and trying to merge the executive and judicial systems. AIUDF MLA Rafiqul Islam claimed that it was wrong for the cops to exercise ‘judicial power’ and kill people without determining their guilt in the case. He warned Himanta Biswa Sharma to ‘not follow Yogi ji’ or run the risk of sinking his own boat. “If illegal encounters are happening in Assam and some police personnel are acting under the chief minister’s instructions, then the Indian law will take action against them today or tomorrow, ” he claimed.
The Opposition has accused the BJP dispensation of high-handedness while Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has asked the state government to initiate an inquiry into the police encounters.
Uttar Pradesh Govt’s ‘zero-tolerance policy’ showing positive results in the last 4 years
CM Yogi Adityanath of Uttar Pradesh has been the pioneer in a zero-tolerance policy towards crime and criminals. And it has given positive results to the state in the past four years. In March 2021, while hitting back at opposition parties over charges of a “deteriorating” law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath had revealed: “The result of the zero-tolerance policy has been that when compared to the figures of 2016-2017, there has been a fall of 65.72 % in cases of dacoity; 66.15 % in loot; 19.80 % in murder and 45.43 % in rape in UP,” he said at a press conference on the completion of four years of his government.
“While earlier no one wanted to come to the state because of a sense of insecurity, there is no fear now. Our government has also taken strict action against professional criminals, mafia elements, and others harming peace, and this has also set a norm in the country,” he said, adding: “To the government, a criminal is a criminal and it is also said that he does not belong to any caste or community.