Fake Encounters

Encounter killing is a term used in India since the late 20th century to describe killings by the police or the armed forces, allegedly in self-defense, when they encounter suspected gangsters or terrorists. Critics are skeptical of many of these reported incidents, and further complain that the wide acceptance of the practice has led to incidents of police creating fake encounters to cover-up the killing of suspects when they are either in custody or are unarmed.

Government figures show that in the last four years, 555 fake encounter cases were registered across India, with majority being reported in Uttar Pradesh (138), followed by Manipur (62), Assam (52), West Bengal (35), Jharkhand (30), Chhattisgarh (29), Odisha (27), Jammu and Kashmir (26), Tamil Nadu (23) and Madhya Pradesh (20). Only 144 cases, out of 555, have been solved so far.
There have been many cases of fake encounters in India which have been witnessed, encountered and dealt with by not only the victims but also by the families and the fellow statesmen of the victims also. This shakes the foundation of the people right to its core, they become fearful and hostile towards their so called saviours and guardians who were originally formed to protect and respect the people of the country.

The nine-year-old Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case has once again brought to national limelight the controversial issue of extra judicial killings being carried out by various State police and other forces like the Army and the paramilitary. Debate over fake encounters notwithstanding, such cases are growing in the country, more so in disturbed areas like the Naxal-affected States and the north east.

When it comes to the case of India, the nation victimized number of people under the pretext of terrorist attacks like parliament attack & Mumbai terrorist attack and so on and most of them were related with some terrorist groups or religious community. Most of the cases a number of persons were arrested and the majority of them were educated youth studying as seniors in high schools or sophomores and seniors in colleges and universities. As the number of terrorist attacks increased & the number of ‘encounters’ also increased and the State and people celebrated each encounters with media as national achievements and thought they stood one step closer to curbing terrorism in the country because they believed that each encounter secures their life and nation, but within a short time and some of the Journalists and Social activists and NGO revealed the tales of encounters and they declared most of the encounters as ‘fake encounters’.

When it comes to the case of fake encounters the consequence is more than we can expect. It constructed an image of the concept of terrorist, but unfortunately only some communities were treated as terrorists and some type of dress code, belief, books, and writings etc. were treated as the most dangerous tools of terrorism. These concepts were concreted on the society quickly possibly as a cover up to justify these encounters. Even after the truth behind those encounters were revealed, these concepts still exists in the society, but these fake encounters decreased faith in encounters and in the media reports. The media was and is criticized by the people for the reporting of fake encounters and thus new media outlets were born as the result of the criticism. Most of these media sources conducted an investigation on whether those cases were fabricated or not. These new Medias included sources like websites, social media pages, groups on social media and blogs etc. which were operated on internet or on e-platform only. These sources were managed by the people who although were not professionally qualified journalists but their work was not anything less than professional and most importantly authentic. This raised the role of media and journalists on fake encounters and a positive impact was seen being present on some of the reporting. As the result of fake encounters people started to raise questions on all the cases whether it is a small case or a big one.

Hundreds of civilian's including women and children have been reported to be extra judicially executed by Indian security forces and killings concealed as fake encounters. Despite government denial, Indian security officials have reportedly confessed to human right watch of widespread occurrence of fake encounters and its encouragement for awards and promotions. According to a BBC interview with an anonymous security person, 'fake encounter' killings are those in which security personnel kill someone in cold blood while claiming that the casualty occurred in a gun battle. The security personnel assert that these victims or claimed militants by the forces are Kashmiris and "even are surrendered militants". In 2010 three men were reported missing,while proceeding these missing reports these 3 men were claimed to be militants and were killed in a staged gun battle, the army also claimed they had found Pakistani currency among the dead. After examining the facts when the truth about this being a fake encounter came out, the major was subsequently suspended and a senior soldier transferred from his post. In 2011, a Special Police Officer and an IndianArmy Jawan were charged by the Kashmir police for murder of a civilian whom the duo had killed in an encounter claiming that he was a top Lashkar-e-Taiba militant.

Some estimates put the number of Kashmiri’s killed by the Armed Forces at 1,00,000 during the last 21 years since 1989. According to International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice more than eight thousand people have been reported missing during these years of insurgency. To a great extent they can be attributed to the impunity enjoyed by the Armed Forces under the AFSPA, which has similarly been misused in Manipur also from where similar reports pour in day in and day out. Since Armed Forces Special Powers Act is in force, rarely do such incidents come to light except only when some individual members of the armed forces come forward and speak the truth out. One such incident was when an army jawan, Abbas Hussain Shah of 161 Battalion of the Territorial Army in Gauntmullah, Baramulla, who himself was involved in the conspiracy, confirmed the killing of three youths on April 30,2010 at Machil sector along the LoC in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir. These young men were earlier lured from their village three days ago by a former special police officer and his accomplice on April 27, 2010 in the name of providing them work with the army, and handed over to an army Major Opinder, for the set up encounter. After the fake encounter got exposed a Colonel was removed from his command and Major Opinder was suspended. The Army officers had claimed that the three young men were Pakistani terrorists and were killed during an encounter while infiltrating into the country, though inquiries later revealed that they were residents of Nadihal in Baramulla district.