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Assam Police encounter continues; 3 shot at in past 24 hours

GUWAHATI: The saga of Assam Police’s encounter spree has continued as three more suspects were shot in the leg over the past 24 hours in the state.

On Wednesday, an areca nut smuggler was shot in the leg by police while he was reportedly trying to escape from custody.

Likewise, a rhino poacher Thangouchin V Khamkhopau, who was arrested on July 13 from Churachandpur district of Manipur and brought to Assam, was shot at when he tried to escape from custody in Bokakhat. Reportedly, a team led by Bokakhat police was taking Khamkhopau to a spot in Panbari Reserve Forest near Kaziranga National Park, where his weapons were reportedly hidden. In a daring event, he tried to snatch a service arm and tried to escape police custody. Police shot him in the leg in order to restrain him.

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In another encounter incident, Babul Deka, a cadre of the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) sustained a bullet injury in his leg in Dibrugarh district when police fired at him. Reportedly, the cadre was coming to collect Rs. 20 lakhs extortion money from a tea garden in Jeypore area in the name of the outfit. According to Police, Deka had been demanding a huge sum from three tea estates in the locality for the past few months. He used to serve demand notes using the letterhead of the banned outfit. The police nabbed him on Thursday morning. But he tried to escape during the operation.

However, ULFA-I in an official statement has refuted the allegation of its cadres association with any extortion activity.

Encounter in two months:

Since Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has taken charge in May this year, at least 37 people have been shot at by Assam Police till July 22. Out of these encounters,15 succumbed to the bullet injuries, which includes 10 militants from the Dimasa National Liberation Army, United People’s Revolutionary Front and National Liberation Front of Bodoland. Others were accused in cases like drug peddling, rape, cow smuggling, robbery and murder.

While the opposition has slammed the government for being”trigger happy”, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma has declared to continue with his “zero tolerance” policy against crime and criminals.

“If we could do a workshop with the criminals on how to behave when the police arrive then we may not have to shot them. But when the police arrive, the only thing the criminals know is to follow is self-defense, and they could go to any extent to do the same. Till the time I am on this chair police will have full operational liberty staying under the law,” said CM Sarma in Assam Legislative Assembly last week on opposition’s encounter related queries.

“Misplaced sympathy is very dangerous,” Sarma further added.

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