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Every two days, someone gets killed in police firing or encounter in India

Hundreds of cases pending with National Human Rights Commission

Photo: Unsplash/ripster8

Photo: Unsplash/ripster8

Anoushka Sawhney New Delhi

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The National Human Rights Commission registered a case of death due to police firing or encounter every three days even during the pandemic.

Assailants shot dead former member of parliament Atiq Ahmed on April 16, triggering a debate on extra-judicial killings. As many as 179 cases were registered in 2018-19, shows annual data from a Rajya Sabha reply in 2022. The analysis considered deaths due to police encounter or police firing. This works out to one case every two days. The number of such killings dropped to 135 in 2019-20 and 113 in 2020-21 amid Covid-19 restrictions. But even that works out to a case every three days. The number of deaths had begun to climb again in 2021-22 (chart 1).


The disposal of cases dropped sharply during the pandemic. The cases that the NHRC disposed of as a ratio of pending cases was 86.4 per cent in 2017-18. This disposal rate fell to 14.7 per cent, shows data for 2021-22. The ratio of pending cases to registered ones has also risen, from 13.6 per cent in 2017-18 to a staggering 85.3 per cent in 2021-22 (chart 2), shows data in the March 2022 reply. The number of pending complaints at the time were 139. A look at the latest NHRC bulletin shows 317 pending cases as of March 2023.

Chart 2

The NHRC has recommended monetary compensation in many cases, according to the Rajya Sabha reply.

“During the period from 01.04.2016 to 10.03.2022, in 107 reported cases of deaths in police encounter, the NHRC has recommended compensation of Rs 7,16,50,000,” it said.

Granular data numbers show that some places have seen a larger increase than others after the pandemic began. Assam saw the number of police firing and encounter death cases rise from seven in 2018-19 to 24 in 2021-22. Jammu & Kashmir recorded 39 cases in 2021-22, from zero in 2018-19.

Uttar Pradesh had recorded 24 deaths in 2018-19. This came dowm to nine in 2021-22 (chart 3).

Chart 3

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First Published: Apr 18 2023 | 10:31 PM IST

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