Guwahati, Jan 28: The Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has taken suo motu cognisance of an incident of police firing on a former student leader in Nagaon district and issued notice to Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua asking why the state government should not pay compensation to the man.
Based on media reports, the AHRC had on January 24 issued a suo motu order, which stated that there is a "prima-facie" case of violation of human rights.
" It is felt necessary to issue notice to the chief secretary of Assam to show-cause as to why payment of compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh as interim relief to the victim (Kirti Kamal Bora) should not be recommended," AHRC member Naba Kamal Bora said in the order.
The Commission has fixed February 28 for the next hearing of the case with a reply from the chief secretary.
Bora, alleged by law enforcers to be a drug peddler, was injured in police firing in Nagaon district on January 22, leading to opposition parties and social groups calling it an effect of the prevailing "police jungle raj" and claiming that the present situation is worse than that during the "secret killings" of the 1990s.
Police claimed that the former Nowgong College general secretary was selling drugs and he was shot in the leg after he had attacked law enforcers, while the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) alleged that he had protested to "drunk policemen" beating up a youth and it irked them.
The term "secret killings" refers to the extra-judicial killings of family members of ULFA leaders in the late 1990s.
Under pressure due to public backlash over the incident, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had on January 23 announced an inquiry by a one-man commission of Additional Chief Secretary Paban Kumar Borthakur into the circumstances leading to the police firing.
The Assam Police had sent the police personnel, involved in the shooting incident at Kachalukhua in Nagaon, to the police reserve on the next day of the firing. Despite the incident leading to widespread protests, Sarma had on January 25 asserted that police action against criminals will continue. He, however, said that the Nagaon case will be probed and the officials found guilty will be punished.
Altogether 32 people have been killed and at least 68 injured in police firing while allegedly trying to flee from custody or attacking the personnel since the second BJP government in the state under Sarma assumed office in May 2021.
The rising number of shoot-outs whipped up a political furore with the opposition alleging that the Assam Police has turned "trigger happy" and is indulging in "open killings" under the Sarma regime.
Unfazed by criticism of his government over the encounter killings, Sarma had on July 15 last year said in the Assam Assembly that the state police has "full operational liberty" to fight against the criminals within the ambit of law.
The Gauhati High Court had on January 11 asked the Assam government to file a detailed affidavit within two weeks on the police encounters that have been taking place undoubtedly since the ruling BJP returned to power in May last year.
However, the Assam government had on January 25 failed to submit the detailed affidavit on the police encounters as sought by the High Court, which gave more time to the administration and deferred the hearing to February 8.