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Aab Tak 2

Two Police “Encounters” in last 3 weeks leave Doonites insecure & angry.

Dr Nitin Pandey


Two men, Haramveer Singh & Ranbir Singh, had their lives snuffed out in Dehra Dun, during the last three weeks in most tragic but surprisingly similar circumstances. Both of them did not belong to Dehra Dun; both allegedly fired at police while trying to flee in a remote forested area, there were no independent witnesses in either case and both died when the police opened fire in self defence. In both cases only the deceased was shot, while the other alleged accomplices fled the scene, untraced. No policeman as much as even got a scratch in the encounters. In both cases there were dozens of other unanswered questions which make the police version of events seem blatantly false.

Unfortunately the similarities end here.

National Human Rights Commission’s Guidelines on Police Encounter Deaths
  • In all deaths in encounters, the investigations must be done by an independent investigating agency, like the CB-CID. A magisterial enquiry must also be held “in all cases of deaths which occur in the course of police action”. Further, the next of kin of the deceased must be invariably associated in such inquiry.
  • No out of turn promotions or instant gallantry awards shall be bestowed on the concerned officers after the occurrence. It must be ensured at all costs that such rewards are given/ recommended only when the gallantry of the officer is established beyond doubt.
Haramveer was a petty thief, whose encounter on 13th June went largely unnoticed by the press and electronic media. He had one sister in Muzzafarnagar, who quietly claimed his body and went back without any fuss. Flouting the NHRC Guidelines on Police Encounters (see box) the police party which killed him was instantly rewarded with Ten Thousand Rupees, and no mandatory CB-CID enquiry was ordered. No one protested against the encounter, probably because he was a thief, came from a low profile family and apparently had no right to live.

Ranbir Singh, who was encountered on 3rd July, was an MBA student and son of an ex-serviceman in Ghaziabad. His family raised a ruckus in Dehra Dun which was extensively covered by the Print and Electronic Media. This put intense pressure on the government and it was only after the father met the Chief Minister that the mandatory CB-CID enquiry was ordered. It took three days for the government to suspend the involved policemen.

The Haramveer Singh Encounter
13th June 2009
On 13th June night, the police apparently spotted two suspicious characters in Vasant Vihar. On being challenged the duo ran into the adjoining Tea Estate, where the police chased them. One of them then fired at the police and in retaliatory fire Haramveer was gunned down, while his accomplice fled.
Some Unanswered Questions:
  • Haramveer had two gunshot injuries in his chest, with one bullet piercing his heart. Why did the police shoot to kill, without trying to capture him alive or shoot at his legs?
  • In the darkness of night, to shoot a running man straight into his heart from a distance seems remarkable.
  • Another inexplicable discovery was that the dead thief was carrying with him items he had stolen two days ago from the same locality? Why would any thief do that?
  • Why did the Police party give up the chase after killing one of the two fugitives?
Two eye witnesses who saw Ranbir Singh being arrested hours before the alleged encounter, have been threatened and their lives are in danger. They have been brave enough to defy the police and contradict their claims. Chief Minister Nishank owes personal responsibility to ensure their protection and any harm to them or retraction of their statements would cast a suspicion on his commitment to finding out the truth. It is his first test after assuming office and he must come out as a firm leader, not afraid of truth.

The Ranbir Singh Encounter
3rd July 2009
Three youths on a motorcycle got involved in a scuffle with a Sub inspector on Balbir Road. They snatched the SI’s revolver and tried to shoot him but the lock on his revolver prevented the revolver from firing. According to the police the three then fled from the scene, were chased by police. They ran into a forest, shot at the following police and in the retaliatory fire Ranbir Singh was killed while the other two escaped.
Some Unanswered Questions:
  • Eyewitnesses saw the police arresting Ranbir Singh and dragging him into a police van. If they had arrested him, how did he reach the encounter site?
  • If someone wanted to run away from Balbir Road, why would he run towards a jungle, when it is so easy to disappear into the labyrinthine roads of Dalanwala.
  • The road between Balbir Road and encounter site is congested with traffic bottlenecks. There are policemen manning at least, three crossings on the way and a police barrier before Vidhan Sabha. How could they have not been caught before reaching the forest?
  • Ranbir had 24 injury marks and bruises. Who tortured him?
  • Why did the police shoot to kill, instead of trying to capture him alive or firing at his legs? Ranbir had numerous bullet wounds on his chest and 6 bullets were from close range fire. The Police have no explanation on why he was shot from close range.
  • Why could the 30 chasing policemen, not capture the other two accomplices and why did they call of the search after killing Ranbir?
It is highly likely that these will not be the last of the “encounters” in Doon. Stern action, as mandated by law, in Haramveer case, could have acted as a deterrent in the minds of policemen and probably prevented Ranbir’s encounter. The instant rewards announced in Haramveer’s case could have actually encouraged another encounter, coming as it does one day before the President visited Dehra Dun. Stern action now in Ranbir Singh case could, at least, prevent future encounter deaths.

Over the last year the image of Doon Police has been sullied by incidents of blackmailing, bribe taking and increasing incidence of crime, rape and murder in the City. A spate of encounter deaths was the last thing it needed to refurbish its image as “Mitr Police”. Sadly, in each of these incidents the higher ups of Uttarakhand Police have been supporting the involved policemen. The State Human Rights Commission has also failed to take note of these encounters. The ruling party politicians, too, have been pretending as if nothing has happened until now, when the Chief Minister was literally forced to order the CB-CID enquiry.

Right to life is the most basic of human rights and to deny it to someone just because he is a thief or because he had scuffle with policemen seems unreasonable. If there was no outcry, Ranbir Singh’s encounter, like Haramveer’s, would have faded into oblivion. Why is it necessary that the State Government be pressurised each time to follow the NHRC’s guidelines in dealing with encounter deaths. The Civil Society in Dehra Dun must protest these encounter deaths. Ignoring injustice to others only strengthens the unjust system and one day may bring us to face to face with the same system.

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From: Plaiesng to find someone who can think like that
Plaiesng to find someone who can think like that