The Yogi Adityanath government in UP has been conducting encounters and claims to keep its poll promise of crime free UP .In the last ten months police has conducted 4 encounters per day .
Furqan from Shamli is one of people encountered and his family has a different take on the encounter operation .He had been locked up in the Muzaffarnagar jail for seven years as an undertrial in a case involving a village brawl.He was unexpectedly released after 7 years and allowed to return home ,his sons, aged 12 and 10, could not recognise him.Two weeks later, on October 23, 2017, he was shot dead by the police in an ‘encounter’.
Furquan, who was 33, worked at a local bandsaw machine unit before he was arrested in Titarwada village of Shamli district. “We did not have the money or a guarantor to get him released so we were surprised that he was out,”says his wife Nasreen.The police claimed Furquan was involved in dacoties strongly refuted by his wife .”I want to ask two things, says Nasreen. “One, when he was in jail for seven years, how come he was also part of these dacoities? And two, why did the cops negotiate his release on their own, when they only wanted to kill him? Were they looking for an scapegoat?”.Furquan had four bullet injuries – on his head, heart, spine and hand. Nasreen says that most of his bones were broken. “Which means he was beaten up before being shot dead,” she says.
According to the Muzaffarnagar police, Furquan had 36 cases and a bounty of Rs 50,000 on him. Budhana police station in charge Chaman Singh Chawra claimed that around midnight on October 23, 2017, they were conducting a routine check when two bikes refused to stop and instead started firing on the police. In retaliatory firing, Furquan received four bullets and died on the spot while his two accomplices escaped. The police also claimed they found a large cache of firearms and cartridges with him. Nasreen says that on October 22, she and Furquan had gone to Baraut, Baghpat to see her brother. Since Nasreen was unwell, he stepped out to buy apples for her and never returned. “The last two weeks since his release, he was with us all the time. How did he conduct dacoities then? After the encounter, even the newspapers published his file photo from 12 years back unlike the pictures of crime scenes in other encounters,” she asks.
Furquan’s five brothers are still in jail ,the youngest Farmeen has alleged torture in the Muzzafarnagar jail and their father Meer Hassan a rickshaw puller is the only earning member of the family .“If we are a family full of such dreaded criminals, why don’t we have any money to feed ourselves even twice a day? Why do we still live in a kaccha house?” asks Nasreen. With most men in jail and meagre income , she is unable to insist on an independent investigation into her husband’s killing. She says the family fears the other brothers will meet the same fate as Furquan.
The trend of charging several members of the same family in different offences is seen by many as the police’s way of creating a resource of obvious scapegoats during police investigations.On the occasion of UP government’s completion of six months these encounters are used to convey the message that the government is working to make UP crime free but sadly many poor are made spacegoats to boost the government’s encounter policy .The media campaign celebrating Adityanath’s ‘swacch badmash abhiyan’ (movement to cleanse criminals) – a term often used for police encounters in the state – has been gathering steam for a while.
Meanwhile, Furquan’s teenage sons have started working as daily wagers. Nasreen says, “Encounters do not control law and order. They only create psychological disorders. Which child will have faith in the law and state when the only memory of their father is a dead body sewn together like a sack of jute after the police killed him?”