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

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Cities in Delhi’s neighbourhood have seen 3 encounters in the last 5 months, and locals say each of the slain gangsters was frequently visited by the police.

Noida/Meerut/Baghpat: Not far beyond the glitz of national capital New Delhi lie the badlands of western Uttar Pradesh, where the Yogi Adityanath government’s encounter drive is in full swing like in several other parts of the state.

Three encounters reported from three cities — Noida, Meerut, and Baghpat — stand out for their inconsistencies and raise doubts about their genuineness.

In all three cases, the ‘gangsters’ who were shot dead were allegedly picked up from a location different to the one mentioned in the police case files. One of them, in fact, gave a dying declaration that he was shot despite putting his hands up to surrender.

Despite grievous injuries to the gangsters’ vertebrae and scalp and various fractures, the magistrate inquiries into these cases did not find any of them worth a probe.

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

The locals in these areas also said that police frequented the houses of these alleged gangsters, asking for money to prevent the issuance of a warrant or the announcement of a reward against them. They also alleged that the police tried to force these men to turn informers and approvers.

Were these men killed as a result of the sweeping powers given to the cops by the government? That’s a question relatives and neighbours ask.


Missing for over three days before encounter, brother alleges mistaken identity

Name: Sumit Gurjar (22)

Time and place of death: 9 pm, ATS Crossing, Noida

Date: 3 October 2017

Cases against him: 8 — Robbery, extortion, Arms Act violations, Gunda Act. Reward of Rs 50,000 on his head.

Injuries: One bullet wound in the left side of the chest measuring 1.5 x 1 cm, another bullet outside the chest cage, a third bullet in the abdomen; abrasion on the right shoulder, damaged kidneys, two severely damaged vertebrae, injuries on the arm and neck.

Sumit, a resident of Chirchita village near Baghpat, had been working as a carrot farmer for two months. He had apparently stepped out to buy some fertilisers at around 10 am on 30 September, and went missing.

When Sumit did not return home that night and his phone was switched off, his father, Karam Singh, got worried and went to the market to look for him. A tea stall owner told him that Sumit was abducted at gun point by a few men who arrived in a Toyota Innova.

The father of Sumit Gurjar
Karam Singh, Sumit Gurjar’s father

“On 1 October, I went to the police station and submitted a complaint stating that my son had been abducted, but no one took note. Then, someone from Sumit’s circle told me he had been taken to either Noida or Delhi and that the police planned to kill him in a staged encounter,” Karam Singh said.

On 2 October, the bounty on Sumit’s head was doubled to Rs 50,000.

At around 2 am on 3 October, a group of policemen reportedly went to Sumit’s house in plain clothes and asked his father to hand over his Aadhaar card, PAN card and other ID proofs.

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

“When I asked them what it was for, they started talking among themselves on how my son will be soon gunned down. When I begged them to spare my son, they asked for Rs 5 lakh. All I have is these cows and this kachcha makaan (mud house) that does not even have a gate. How could I arrange for Rs 5 lakh?” said Singh.

Fearing the worst, Singh registered a missing person complaint with the district magistrate and even the Chief Minister’s portal (at 12.55 pm on 3 October), a copy of which is with ThePrint. “I thought if the police are not taking my complaint, at least the DM or the CM will. But I was wrong,” he said.

According to the case file, information was received on 3 October at around 8 pm that four men who had committed a robbery will approach the ATS Crossing in a Maruti Swift Dzire. A picket was put up, and at around 9 pm, the Swift Dzire was spotted and asked to stop, but it fled. After a brief chase, the car lost balance and collided with the gate of a residential society. When the police asked the men to surrender, they opened fire. Retaliatory police firing killed Sumit, while the other three managed to escape. A bullet also grazed a policeman’s back, and like in most cases, two constables were saved after bullets hit their bulletproof jackets.

While the FIR mentions that the men were trying to flee in a Swift Dzire, the photos released of the recovered car are of a hatchback Maruti Swift, not a Dzire sedan.

Sumit’s post-mortem was conducted in Noida, and the report showed he sustained abrasions on his scalp, multiple fractures, and spinal cord injuries. The entry wound of the bullet measured 1.5 x 1 cm, suggesting he was possibly shot at from a close range.

“They beat him up mercilessly before killing him. They kept him in Noida police station for two days. We ran from pillar to post to save him. Despite knowing that he will be gunned down, we could not do anything,” Sumit’s brother Parveen Kumar said.

He also said this was a case of mistaken identity. “The man the police wanted to shoot is another Sumit, who stays nearby. They picked up my brother thinking it was that Sumit, who has several criminal cases against him. We wanted to explain that to the policemen, but no one gave us a chance to present our case,” he said.

The area Station House Officer, however, countered: “We are not so unprofessional as to have killed the wrong person. A family will never accept that their son was a criminal, but he was a notorious gangster.”

Sumit’s family has now moved court, and also filed an application with the National Human Rights Commission.

“It is a clear case of a fake encounter and we have all documentary proof, statements of the witnesses who saw those men abducting Sumit. We want a CBI inquiry in the matter. A few days ago, a policeman came to us asking us to withdraw our application and settle the matter in exchange for money. Why are they scared now?” Karam Singh said.


Killed for ‘not turning informer’, rode a bike and ran with a broken foot

Name: Noor Mohammad alias Haseen Mota (28)

Time and place of death: 11.33 pm, Meerut

Date: 29 December 2017

Cases against him: 23 — One case of murder, the rest are of robbery, theft, and burglary. Reward of Rs 50,000 on his head.

Injuries: Three bullet injuries, multiple fractures, head injuries, knee fracture.

Just a week before Noor Mohammad alias Haseen Mota was gunned down in Meerut, he fractured his foot after falling from his bike while trying to avoid a dog in the street. His mother arranged for Rs 10,000 for a surgery, but before he could get it done, he was shot dead.

However, according to the FIR, Haseen was on his way to commit a crime along with an associate when he was stopped at a check post. Instead of stopping, he turned the bike and sped, but after covering about 700 metres, the bike skid and he fell. He then tried to run, but since he was surrounded by the pursuing police, he opened fire. The police’s retaliatory fire hit Haseen, but his associate managed to flee. The usual .32 bore pistol and a 9 mm pistol were recovered.

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

“How could he ride a bike or run with a fractured foot? I have medical reports and X-rays to show that he could not even walk properly, let alone ride a bike or go for a robbery,” Haseen’s mother, Shakila Begum, said.

Police records also showed the bike to be a stolen one, but Shakila claimed that it was his own, and she had valid documents to prove that.

Mohammad Ibrahim, his father, alleged that the policemen were forcing Haseen to turn informer, but he had refused. “They tried to lure him with money, tried force, but since he did not agree, they gunned him down,” he said.

“A few days before the encounter, the police came home and told us that they are putting a reward of Rs 50,000 on Haseen as he had failed to appear before the court twice, but if we paid them Rs 4 lakh, they wouldn’t, and would pass off the warrant as untraced.”

The police officer investigating the case said that Noor’s was a family of criminals. “Why would we force someone to become an informer when we pay most our contacts in exchange for information? Haseen was a dreaded gangster and these reports of him having a fractured leg are all concocted,” he said.

Haseen was to appear in court on 3 January, but he was killed before that, said Shakila. “Twice, I myself had made him surrender. This time too, I had met the lawyer and asked him to get the papers ready for Haseen’s surrender,” she said.

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

Two years ago, Haseen was also arrested in a case of murder, and was only released a year later after a probe found that someone else was the killer. “This too is a fake case, but where do we go for justice now? The policemen tell us that he was a criminal and deserved to die of a police bullet, but for me, he was my son,” she added.

Haseen is survived by two sons aged eight and six years and a two-year-old daughter.


Shot despite ‘putting his hands up to surrender’

Name: Deepak Kumar (21)

Time and place of death: 9 pm, Baghpat

Date: 1 February 2018

Cases against him: 16 — One case of murder; the rest of robbery, theft, and burglary. Bounty of Rs 15,000 on his head.

Injuries: Three bullet injuries — one each on the chest, back and abdomen.

Sitting in his clinic, Deepak’s father, who runs a TB centre, is busy writing prescriptions. Deepak’s brother is sitting in a corner with a text book on the Indian Penal Code.

Neither of them is ready to speak about what happened on the night of 1 February, but Deepak’s mother breaks the silence.

“My son has been murdered by the police. His last words were that he was shot at even after he put his hands up and announced his surrender. Even a nurse at the hospital who was on duty said that Deepak was crying, saying why was he shot when he surrendered?” Baby, Deepak’s mother, said.

However, an investigator countered: “If that was the case then why did no one from the hospital give a statement? It is easy to put the blame on the police.”

Deepak Kumar’s mother

The police gunned Deepak down in Baghpat, when he was allegedly trying to flee. He was then taken to a hospital in Meerut, where he died during treatment. Deepak’s family was not informed by the police, but they found out about the encounter through television news.

“All I knew was that he had been shot. No one told us where or which hospital he was in. I shuttled between Baghpat and Meerut, till I was told that he was admitted in Meerut,” Baby said.

“While he was in hospital, I tried to ask him what had happened, but a policeman was always by his side, and he could not say much.”

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

Deepak worked at an automotive parts factory in the area, and had earlier been arrested by the police in a case of murder. He stayed in jail for over a year and was released only a few months ago.

His brother Naveen is preparing to join the UP Police. “My brother fell into bad company, but the police made things worse for him. They kept asking him for money; whenever he refused, they falsely implicated him in a case. I want to get into the system to clean it up,” Naveen said.

“This is not a case of encounter but an extra judicial killing. The policemen took a bribe from one of Deepak’s associates, with whom he had had a fall out. Just a day after Deepak’s death, that man came to our house bragging that he gave Rs 4 lakh to the police officer to eliminate Deepak and then pass it off as an encounter,” Naveen said.

All photos taken by Ananya Bhardwaj

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  1. Absolutely shocking state of UP ! While we all want the law and order situation to improve , we cannot allow extra judicial methods and brazen violation of human rights and rule of law by the State machinery to achieve that end ! I’m amazed that the govt is being allowed to get away with it while the media, the opposition and the citizenry is sitting in complete silence – how can the chief minister openly say that encounters will continue as part of govt policy – it’s an unconditional licence to exploit ,extort and kill given to the policemen and its the poor lower castes and minorities who are at the receiving end – it should have attracted huge condemnation and even suo motto judicial investigation but the pathetic state of affairs in the country especially in the state have meant that either people are too scared to speak up or actually believe that’s its perfectly acceptable for the yogi govt to do this in the ‘larger’cause of maintaining laws and order – in either case it augers very worrying days ahead for the country !

  2. Yogiji has the wind of 325 / 403 in his sails. One Korean firm which promised to invest 90,000 crores in the state is worth a couple of million dollars. These ” encounter ” killings are bound to attract the notice of the apex court and the NHRC soonet rather than later. Very difficult to be sanguine about the success of this administration.

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