‘Shoot criminals in leg if they try to escape from custody’: Assam CM to police

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sharma said the police shouldn’t be scared of firing at criminals but they should be clear that the tough action that they are taking is for public good and not self interest.
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma with state police chief Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta at a conference with officers in-charge of all police stations of Assam in Guwahati on Monday. (ANI)
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma with state police chief Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta at a conference with officers in-charge of all police stations of Assam in Guwahati on Monday. (ANI)
Published on Jul 06, 2021 12:24 AM IST
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Guwahati: Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday asked the state police to take tough action against criminals, telling police personnel to shoot criminals in the leg if they try to escape from custody.

“Someone asked me today if police shooting at persons who try to escape from custody has become a pattern. This should be the pattern if someone who is a rapist tries to flee after snatching arms from police or someone who tries to escape while recreating a scene of crime,” Sarma said amid an increase in incidents of police shooting suspects while allegedly trying to escape from custody.

“Police shouldn’t shoot them in the chest, but law permits shooting them in the leg. The police in Assam shouldn’t be scared of taking such action (against criminals) but no such action should be taken against innocent persons,” the chief minister, who holds the portfolio for the state’s home department, said at an interaction with officers in-charge of police stations across the state.

According to police records, 10 persons have been injured in firing by the police since 1 June. While 3 alleged cattle thieves sustained injuries in a police shootout, seven others - two men accused of rape, a man arrested for drug peddling and two men arrested for abduction - were injured when police fired at them for allegedly trying to escape from custody.

“If the police don’t retaliate, then they themselves would die. But before we take such action, which is permitted by law, our conscience should be clear that whatever tough action we are taking, it is for the public good and not for our own interest,” chief minister Sarma said.

The chief minister’s comments provoked sharp reactions from the opposition and human rights activists who said that it might encourage police personnel to shoot alleged criminals instead of conducting proper investigations to solve cases. They also underlined that the court, and not the police, could sit in judgment of the crimes the suspects are accused of committing.

“It seems the police have become trigger happy. We condemn the chief minister’s comments. How can the police say a person is criminal or not?... It is for the court to decide. If criminals try to escape from police custody, it shows laxity on the part of police,” said leader of Congress legislature party Debabrata Saikia.

Noted human rights activist Dibyajyoti Saikia wondered how a chief minister could tell police how to shoot at alleged criminals. “Tough action against criminals is needed, but shooting at accused persons is not the solution to control crime,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Utpal is an assistant editor based in Guwahati. He covers all eight states of North-East and was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times .

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