Guwahati, July 9: Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma's statement that shooting criminals who try to escape from custody or snatch service guns "should be pattern" has dangerous ramifications of turning Assam into a 'police state' by making law enforcers trigger-happy and disregarding of human rights, state Congress chief Ripun Bora said on Friday.
The Chief Minister had issued the statement on July 5 while justifying the series of encounters, in which at least 12 suspected insurgents and criminals were killed, since he assumed office, triggering a political slug-fest in the state.
"Sarma should be aware that both the Supreme Court and the Gauhati High Court have ruled that no matter how dreaded criminals may be, they should be apprehended alive and the police has no right to open fire on the accused or kill them at will," Bora told reporters here. Only in case of self-defence can they be fired upon and that too below the knees. The Supreme Court has also said that if a criminal is fired upon even in self-defence or otherwise, police has to give justification before the court for its actions, the Congress leader said.
"Despite the apex court's ruling, a chief minister issuing such a statement speaks volumes about his disregard for the judiciary," Bora said. Sarma had earlier remarked that all opposition MLAs should join the BJP as "what will they do in the opposition bench for five years?"
"Such remarks only reflect the total disregard for the whole democratic process, and show his belief in an autocratic dictatorship," he said. Sarma had on July 6 also said that an MLA's only role is to make laws in the assembly and he/she has no part to play in developmental activities in his/her constituency, the responsibility of which rests upon ministers, and no officer is bound to listen to a legislator's directives.
"His remarks are not only abusive to the elected representatives but also insult our revered Constitution of India. That a Political Science degree holder and a PhD scholar like Sarma could utter such words about the Constitution is doubly shameful," Bora said. The Constitution clearly highlights not only the legislative powers of the MLAs but also their executive and financial powers, he said.
"Sarma's attempts to forcefully undermine the function and powers of the MLAs exposes his fascist mentality and his remark that as long as he is chief minister, it will continue in this manner is also condemn able," the state Congress Chief added.