source: Times of India
published: 3 November 2016
While the police killing of eight undertrials who had escaped from Bhopal Central Jail on Tuesday has been surrounded by a fog of claims, counterclaims and feints, the incident continues a long established trend of encounter killings in India.
According to figures made available in Parliament and collected by the National Human Rights Commission, in the decade between 2004-05 and 2013-14, a staggering 1,654 persons were gunned down in such encounters. That is, approximately, one death in an encounter every second day. Such data for 2014-15 and 2015-16 is not yet available, although one Lok Sabha question says that 8 persons were killed in alleged fake encounters between April and June 2014.
A parallel trend of custodial deaths — when a prisoner dies in police custody — shows a similar continuity. Data from 2013-14 till June 2016 shows that while 470 persons died in police custody, another 1,358 filed complaints of torture by police personnel. This, of course, is a very conservative estimate as many people may not have complained.