Barely a week after Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s controversial remarks that criminals in the state would “either be sent to jail or killed in police encounters”, the National Human Rights Commission served a notice to his government, seeking a detailed report on allegations of 19 encounter killings that have occurred over the past 6 months in the state.
Though encounter killings have long been known to occur throughout the country, the most recent remarks by Yogi Adityanath appear to suggest an official endorsement.
ThePrint asks: Does CM Adityanath’s statement on encounter killings reveal the UP government’s official position?
Yogi’s statement clearly indicates that he has given the police the right to execute a person without bringing them to trial. He might ultimately say that what he meant was that they have a right to “kill in self-defence”. But such an explanation, cannot be believed in view of the context in which this statement was made. It obviously means that the police are being told to carry out extra-judicial executions.
Not only is it shocking that the chief minister of a state should make such an irresponsible statement but the statement also constitutes a criminal offence. To incite persons to kill other persons is itself a crime.
This statement made by Yogi should be seen in the context of statements made on television and in the media, by politicians and religious leaders, exhorting members of the public to take the law into their own hands and kill people.
Here are other sharp perspectives on Adityanath’s remark:
There have been instances of sadhvis and religious leaders, saying that if anybody eats beef, they should be hanged. That also is a criminal offence. Likewise, the statement made by a political leader in Haryana — to the effect that certain actors should be beheaded for having acted in a particular film — is a very serious crime. I would advise members of the public to get copies of these video-recordings of Yogi, sadhvis and other religious leaders and also of the Haryana political leader. And after getting such video-recordings, file criminal cases against them and have them arrested.
Adityanath’s statement makes it explicit that the BJP has very little regard for the law of this country, and that certain persons want to act as judge and jury, and believe that they have a licence to kill. This is the most serious crime and I suppose I can’t say that I am shocked. Because it is happening so often, unless people from civil society prosecute these criminals, these threats will be made again and again. Therefore, it is very important that members of civil society stand up and prosecute these criminals.
Colin Gonsalves is the Founder of Human Rights Law Network