NEW DELHI — Four UN human rights experts have expressed alarm about allegations of at least 59 extra-judicial killings by police in Uttar Pradesh since March 2017.
In a press release on Friday, they expressed “alarm” and said they are “extremely concerned”.
The members also said, individuals allegedly being abducted or arrested before their killing, and their bodies bearing injuries are indicative of torture.
“We are extremely concerned about the pattern of events: individuals allegedly being abducted or arrested before their killing, and their bodies bearing injuries indicative of torture,” said the UN experts.
The press statement comes at a crucial time as the Supreme Court is scheduled to consider several such cases on January 14. In all the cases, the police said the killings took place during encounters and in self-defense.
Most the cases which the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has raised with the Indian government pertain to Muslim victims.
The statement expressed concern that the Supreme Court’s guidelines on investigations were not followed. This includes the police failing to inform family members of the killings, to conduct examinations of the scene, to provide copies of post-mortem reports to families, and to transfer cases to an independent investigative agency.
The OHCHR says that the evidence available and pattern of the deaths indicates that many of these could be extra-judicial killings as they took place in police custody. The police often claim that these were done during “encounters” and in “self-defense”.
Six months ago, the OHCHR had written to the Indian government on the issue of alleged fake encounter deaths in Manipur and the government’s failure to complete inquiries within the Supreme Court’s deadlines.
The OHCHR officials said the Indian government had not yet replied to their letter and that they continue to receive more information on these killings.
A volatile situation prevails in UP, as ‘encounter’ attacks being unleashed on people in the name of fighting crimes emerging as one of the most chilling aspects of the ‘Yogi Raj’ (Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath rule) in the state. The police have conducted – according to the state government’s figures till January this year – 1,038 ‘encounters’, killing a total of 44 people and leaving 238 injured.
The panel of experts of the UN included Agnes Callamard, Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment; Ahmed Shaheed.
This is not the first time a human rights body has raised
In November 2018, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had taken suo motu cognizance of a media report which said that 20-year-old Irshad Ahmad of Muzaffarnagar district was shot dead in an alleged fake encounter by the Uttar Pradesh police on November 27.
Issuing a notice to UP DGP and chief secretary, NHRC had said it is the solemn duty of the police to protect the people and “not to create an atmosphere of fear under the garb of dealing with crime.”