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Unanswered questions about killing of suspected terrorists

MG News Desk

New Delhi, November 6: Three days after the killing of two suspected Pakistani terrorists by Delhi Police, questions regarding the veracity of police claims remain unanswered.

On November 3, Delhi Police had killed two youngmen in their 20s in an “encounter” (exchange of fire) in the basement car parking lot of a busy shopping mall, Ansal Plaza.

The police claimed the two were Pakistani nationals and members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant outfit. They were said to have come from Pakistan in June to commit acts of terror on Diwali, a major Hindu festival.

Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, who also holds the home portfolio, hurried to say the two slain young men were Pakistanis who had come to India to stage a terrorist attack on festival eve. Pakistan’s foreign office quickly denied the charge.

“Advani’s allegations are baseless and ludicrous and reflect the deep anti-Pakistan malaise of the Hindu fundamentalist leadership,” a Pakistani foreign office statement said.

The statement form the Pakistan foreign office added: “The Government of India would be well-advised to undertake impartial investigation into all such incidents which are rooted in an unjust and discriminatory social and political melieu and desist from pointing a finger at Pakistan.”

Meanwhile, in New Delhi, questions have started rising about the veracity of police claims. Widely-circulated New Delhi newspaper, Hindustan Times, raised the question, “How come one of them (the terrorists) had a black eye.”

Its report of the incident was accompanied by a bright colour picture of one of the slain militants lying virtually in a pool of blood, holding a revolver in his right hand, finger still on trigger. (This, in fact, is a classic “pose” of all people dying in police encounters.)

Another question that reporters asked the police without getting a satisfactory answer was how come no policeman got even a scratch in the exchange of fire while two of the suspected terrorists were killed. The questions are pertinent in view of a long record of people dying in fake police encounters.

Though the alleged terrorists were killed on November 3, autopsies would be conducted tomorrow, November 7. More questions are being asked about the venue of the encounter. How come the police did not intercept them in a less crowded area?

The most disturbing is the statement of a physician who says he was an eyewitness to the killing in the parking lot. Dr H Krishna, the eyewitness, told the Asian Age daily that he was there in the parking lot with his wife and son when the two young men were shot dead.

According to a report in the Asian Age today, Dr Krishna rejected the police claim that the alleged terrorists were carrying an AK-56 gun and a pistol and were firing at them. In fact, the two youngmen, in their 20s, were “barely able to walk,” the doctor said who was standing only a few feet away from the "encounter" drama.

Dr Krishna said he saw them getting out of their car with difficulty. “Being a doctor I could easily make out that either they had not slept for several days or had taken a heavy dose of sleeping pills.”

The doctor said the two youngsters were unarmed. “The cops fired about 30 to 35 bullets. It lasted hardly for a minute,” he added. He said he tried to refute a senior police officer briefing reporters, but he was shooed away by other policemen.

“After the telephonic conversation with the doctor, The Asian Age team reached his residence and found some men who appeared to be plainclothes policemen hovering around the house,” the newspaper wrote.

When the newspaper team pressed the doorbell, a young man from behind the iron-grill door said the doctor had stepped out. By that time the plainclothes men had disappeared, the newspaper said.

The doctor had earlier expressed the fear that he would be “traced and silenced.” However, he added that he “would not be afraid to speak out on the matter to the president of the country.”

In the light of police penchant for extrajudicial killings, the revelations are a cause for worry. The National Human Rights Commission has received complaints about 666 cases of death in police custody over the last six months. This works out to nearly four custodial deaths a day in the country, a matter of serious concern for any democracy.

(Nov. 6, 2002)

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