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Appalling state of affairs in Prayagraj

Encounter killings have become the norm in UP
Last Updated : 16 April 2023, 19:39 IST
Last Updated : 16 April 2023, 19:39 IST

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There is no better illustration of the collapse of law and order in Uttar Pradesh than the killing of gangster-turned politician Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf in full public view in Prayagraj on Saturday. The killings took place within two days of the killing of Atiq’s son Asad Ahmed and his friend Ghulam Hassan in a dubious police encounter in Jhansi. The killings are part of an ecosystem of lawlessness and a chain of attacks mainly directed against the minority community.

These attacks show the authorities in a poor light. The impression is widespread that the Yogi Adityanath government will not be deterred by criticism when it comes to encounters and actions that flout due process. Killings and hostile actions against a minority community have become part of the government’s public policy.

There are several questions about the two incidents which will probably get no correct answers. The need for taking the brothers for a medical examination at night with lax security has been questioned. Just a few days ago, Atiq Ahmed had approached the Supreme Court for security and the court had told him that the “state machinery would take care” of him.

While it is true that Atiq Ahmed and his associates had criminal cases against them, the state does not have the right to kill any person, criminal or otherwise. Even the worst criminal should get the benefit of due process of law as otherwise there will be anarchy in society. The present chain of killings started with the murder of BSP MLA Raju Pal in 2005, in which Rafiq Ahmed was an accused. There are also other cases against him and his associates.

Encounter killings have become the norm in UP. The killing of Atiq Ahmed’s son was the third in UP this month and the state has seen 183 police encounters under the present government. The government has ordered a judicial inquiry and suspension of some police officials after the killing of Atiq Ahmed, but from its record it is clear where its sympathies lie. The government has praised such actions of the police in the past and protected them from adverse consequences.

When the police overstep their boundaries and enforce vigilante justice, the whole edifice of law and order, supported by the Constitution, crumbles. Bulldozers and guns are the tools of governance in UP and their use has been institutionalised and brazenly defended. The lawless violence wielded by the state against citizens is corrosive, and will damage the state and society.

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Published 16 April 2023, 18:36 IST

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