Two gangsters and suspects in the murder case of Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala were recently killed in an encounter by Punjab Police’s Anti-Gangster Task Force in a four-hour-long shootout.
Encounter killings or extrajudicial executions by the police often make headlines and have become increasingly familiar in India. In the last six years, pending cases of encounter killings have increased nearly five-fold. In 2016-17, 25 such cases were pending, which increased to 124 in 2021-22.
While India has seen a 15 per ent decline in encounter killing cases registered in the six years between 2016-17 and 2021-22 (till March 10, 2022), the cases shot up by 69.5 per cent in the last two years.
In all the six years, only once has the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recommended disciplinary action or prosecution regarding “death in police encounters”, according to Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai in the Rajya Sabha in March 2022. Instead, the NHRC has recommended a total compensation of Rs 7.16 crore in the last six years.
India has registered 813 cases of encounter killings in the last six years, which means one such case has been registered almost every three days since April 2016 in the country. While there was a significant drop in these cases during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic (from 112 in 2019-20 to 82 in 2020-21), there was a 69.5 per cent spike the next year with 139 cases. In the six years since April 2016, Chhattisgarh recorded the most extrajudicial killing cases (259), followed by Uttar Pradesh (110) and Assam (79).