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UP encounters: A thug who was ‘mentally unstable & begging’, a ‘rushed’ midnight cremation

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Not far from Delhi, the police seem to be targeting dormant criminals, who are easy targets, to win rewards or to prove that crime is being curbed.

Aligarh/Saharanpur: It’s not just active criminals who are being killed under the Yogi Adityanath government’s encounter drive.

Three cases in the vicinity of national capital Delhi and its satellite cities show that even those who haven’t been on the police radar for years, or have recently been released on bail, have been eliminated – a mentally unstable former criminal who was picked up from his home; a man who appeared for all his court hearings; and one who had no criminal case against him in the last two years.

Are the police targeting dormant criminals — who are easy targets — to win rewards or to try and prove that crime is being curbed?

Also read: In Yogi’s ‘encounter Pradesh’ dead gangsters tell tales of torture and fishy bullet wounds

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A man who never skipped a hearing, surrendered 9 times

Name: Bebender (35)

Time and place of death: 10 pm, Bisrat, Gautam Budh Nagar

Date: 19 September 2017

Cases against him: 24 — mostly robbery, Arms Act violations and cheating. No reward.

Injuries: Three bullet wounds next to the heart, one measuring 1.5 x 1 cm.

Two days before he was gunned down, Bebender was released from jail after four months. He had been arrested for robbery.

After his release, he went straight to his lawyer to arrange papers for the release of his belongings – a bike, some clothes, wallet, mobile and chain — from Bisrat police station in Noida.

On 19 September, he called his mother and told her he was on his way to Bisrat to collect his bike, and would come home to Pisawa village in Aligarh straight after. He was, however, gunned down that evening in Bisrat, while allegedly trying to flee with a stolen Honda City. His accomplice managed to flee.

Also read: Encounters in UP: Man who went to ‘surrender’ killed, mother who heard cops ‘finish’ son

Bebender’s mother Satyawati asked: “So, he came out of jail and straightway went to commit a robbery? After I spoke to him on 19 September, his phone was switched off. I am certain the police picked him up when he went to collect his belongings.

“Also, if he was shot while trying to flee, he would have sustained bullet wounds on his back, thigh or legs, not directly on the chest.”

Police records show that Bebender didn’t have a reward against his name, and was not absconding in any case. In fact, he appeared in court on all dates. The local police, too, vouched for this.

Lalit Kumar, Bebender’s brother

“He was one gangster who was regular with his hearings in court, and surrendered at least nine times. He was involved in many cases of loot, but since he stayed at home and was not absconding in any case, he used to appear whenever we called him for questioning,” an official from Pisawa police station said on the condition of anonymity.

Bebender, who was born and brought up in Pisawa, completed his school education but failed entrance exams for the police and military.

“After that he started roaming around with small time robbers in the village and got influenced. After his first arrest, we told him we would disown him, but he refused to listen. Then we got him married, which brought some stability to his life, and he opened a property consultancy,” Bebender’s uncle Umer Singh said.

Umer Singh, Bebender’s uncle

“He kept a track of all his court dates and never missed any. He was acquitted in most cases, and in the others, he went to jail several times. He was killed by these policemen for accolades. Otherwise, why target a person who is not even absconding and has not committed a single crime in the last two years?” Singh asked.

Also read: UP encounters: Killed at 11 pm but watch shows 7; another shot dead after 7 years in jail

A senior police officer from Noida said the absence of a reward simply means there is no compiled record of a gangster from across police stations, but that doesn’t mean he’s not notorious.

“He started indiscriminately firing and we had to open fire in self-defence. It has nothing to do with him being a rewarded criminal or not. He had dozens of cases of robbery against him,” the officer said.

***

Mentally unstable man taken for an ‘outing’, shot

Name: Mansoor (28)

Time and place of death: 1 am, Pallavpuram, Meerut

Date: 27 September 2017

Cases against him: 26 — Attempt to murder, robbery, and extortion. Last went to jail in 2013, was out in bail. Reward of Rs 25,000.

Injuries: Three bullet wounds on the chest.

Three years ago, when Mansoor returned from Kurukshetra jail after serving time for brawling, he started showing signs of mentally instability. He often spent time at the baithak in the village or near the stream. Whenever he got hungry, he would just walk into any house in the village and ask for leftovers.

On 26 September too, he was reportedly sitting next to the stream when three men in plain clothes went to his house and asked his mother to call for him. They took him from the house for an “outing”, and then came news of his encounter.

“The men — all plain-clothes policemen — picked him up by his arms and forcefully took him away,” Mansoor’s mother Zubaida said.

Neighbour Samreena also saw the men dragging Mansoor away. “I was there. Mansoor did not want to go but they kept saying that they were taking him for an outing and dragged him along,” she said. “He did not return home that night and the next day we heard that he was killed in an encounter.”

According to police files, three men, including Mansoor, who were riding a Bajaj Pulsar bike, stopped a property dealer’s car and robbed him at gunpoint on 27 September. The property dealer then informed the police, who swiftly set up a picket for checking. They spotted the alleged robbers with the stolen car and signalled them to stop; the men however, opened fire. The police too fired in retaliation; Mansoor died, while others fled.

Wasim Khan, Mansoor’s brother, countered this version. “The entire Behat police station knows that Mansoor is mentally unstable and often remains in the village. In the last two and a half years, he has not committed any crime. If they had to kill him, they should have done it when he was actually associated with gangs and was an active criminal. Why now?” he asked.

Also read: UP encounters: One ‘mistaken identity’, another killed after ‘raising hands in surrender’

“His condition had deteriorated so much that he had even started begging on the streets for food. We could not afford to take him to a good hospital, so we took him to a maulvi, but his health did not improve.”

Wasim alleged that since his brother was an easy target, he was killed to buttress the encounter numbers. “Why not kill the real criminals? They knew they would find him here, so they came, picked him up, and shot him,” Wasim said.

“He had three bullet wounds next to his heart and kadhi chawal on his lips. This shows that they took him on the pretext of feeding him and then shot him while he was having his meal,” Wasim said. “A reward was also announced on his head on 26 September, the day he was picked up.”

The police, however, maintained that Mansoor was a sharp shooter of the Mukim Kala gang and had been on their radar for a long time.

***

A hurried cremation at midnight

Name: Sonu (28)

Time and place of death: 3 am, Baral, Bulandshahr

Date: 29 December 2017

Cases against him: 23 — two cases of attempt to murder; the rest of robbery and Arms Act violations.

Injuries: Three bullet wounds on the chest, stab wound on the chin.

On 27 December, Sonu Kumar went to drop his wife to her uncle’s house in Kotdwar, Uttarakhand. At around 5.30 pm, his phone was switched off, and he did not return home that night. On 29 December, his family was informed about his death in an encounter.

According to police records, Sonu and his associates were trying to flee after a robbery, when a team of crime branch officials tried to intercept them. The men, however, opened fire. The police chased them and shot in retaliation. While Sonu was killed near Baral Neher, Bulandshahr, his accomplice managed to flee.

Also read: UP encounters: ‘Grabbed in front of dad’, killed & the ‘crime of being a low caste crook’

Sonu’s brother Deepak, however, said: “On 27 December, just before he was picked up, he told me that a reward of Rs 25,000 had been announced against his name. I told him to return home and then plan his surrender. But a day later came the news of his death. When we saw the police website, the reward against his name was revised to Rs 50,000.”

Sonu Kumar’s wife Devki (right) and his brother Deepak Kumar (left)

Sonu was last arrested on 2 July 2015 in a drug-possession case. He spent seven months in jail before he got bail. Since 2016, no warrant was issued in his name. Police records, however, showed that he was involved in two more cases of robbery in 2017.

Sonu’s body was handed over to his family at 10 pm on 29 December, and the personnel insisted that he be cremated within an hour.

“We got the body at 10 pm and by 11.45, they took it to the cremation ground. I requested the policemen to wait till his wife and children came to see him for the last time, but they did not stop. They did not allow us to call any priest, get a sheet or perform any last rites. They hurriedly got the cremation done at midnight. What was the hurry?” Sonu’s mother, Kallu Devi asked.

Kallu Devi, Sonu Kumar’s mother

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