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In India, two civilians get killed in police firing everyday

India on 03 July 2015
Location : New Delhi | Source : DNA

As many as four incidents of police firing – which claim on an average two civilians' lives – are taking place on a daily basis in the country, going by the last 25 years' data. The staggering data has yet again raised concerns among the fraternity working for civil rights who claim that the data is quite an evidence on how Supreme Court and High Court guidelines have been and continue to be violated by police forces across the country.

According to information obtained under the Right to Information Act (RTI), in 35,753 recorded incidents of police firing 17,064 civilians lost lives since 1988. The same RTI also noted that 2,832 police personnel have lost their lives during the same period, while a staggering 33,046 sustained injuries.

The data, compiled by National Crime Bureau Record from 1988 to 2013, shows 18,710 civilians have been injured during incidents of police firing all over the country with states like Punjab, Andhra Pradesh (undivided), Maharashtra, Bihar, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir registering the maximum number of casualities.

People's Watch (Tamil Nadu) executive director Henri Tiphagne, who had led an independent fact-finding team to investigate the 'encounter' killings into Seshachalam forests in Andhra, said the extremely poor record of prosecution of police officers involved in firing incidents and encounters "emboldens the police to commit more of such incidents". Tiphange was also a member of the core group of NGOs that worked with the National Human Rights Committee during 2001-2011 period.

"The numbers show an utter disregard to the Constitution of this country, guidelines of the Supreme Court, High Court and NHRC directives. Moreover, while NHRC tries its best to compensate victims, the record for prosecuting police officers is very bad," he said.

The highest number of civilian causalities in police firing was recorded in Punjab with as many as 3,803 people loosing their lives. The RTI, which does not include the data from the year 1998, shows that 2,432 people were killed in Jammu and Kashmir and 2,098 in Andhra. As many as 1,574 civilians were killed in Maharashtra, while the toll in Bihar was recorded at 1,152.

South Delhi-based RTI activist Ved Pal, who had filed the application last month, said data on killings of and by naxalities or terrorists receives a lot of attention but civilian deaths at the hand of the state is rarely discussed. "The deaths are of civilians and it is not a good sign that police kill 17,000 of them," said Pal.

In the North Eastern states, Assam recorded 665 killings while the insurgency-hit Manipur registered a surprising 67 civilian deaths. It is, however, to be noted that the figures from insurgency-hit states, including J&K, Manipur and Punjab, do not include deaths during the counter insurgency operations in which Army personnel operated alongside local police. The data also does not include deaths of suspected militants.The record does not show any causalities.

During the same period J& K recorded the highest number of deaths of police officers with 573 followed by 381 in Punjab. It is interesting to note that the data shows a staggering disparity between the number of injured and killed in the state of Punjab during late 80s and early 90s post Khalistan movement. While a colossal 3,786 civilians were killed between 1988 to 1993, a total of 130 people sustained injuries in police action.

As many as 275 personnel were killed in Andhra, 158 in Maharashtra and 161 in Bihar during the same period. Also 162 police officers were killed in Assam while Manipur recorded deaths of 25 personnel. In the national capital 78 people were killed in police firing while three officers were killed in 208 incidents till 2013.

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