The Gujarat police faces allegations of killing 20 people in 11 fake encounters
Ab Tak Chhappan is perhaps the most famous film made on encounter killings in India. Directed by Shimit Chak De Amin, the story revolves around the exploits of Sadhu Agashe (played by Nana Patekar), an inspector in the Mumbai Encounter Squad, who gained fame/notoriety for having killed 56 people in police encounters. The title means ‘fifty six till date’ and refers to his kill count.
Ab Tak Kitne, if a section of the media reports and court judgments are to be believed, might be a good name for a film based on the ‘fake’ encounter killings supposedly being carried out with impunity and state sanction in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat.
Supporters of the Gujarat Chief Minister say the killings are necessary acts of desh bhakti in the war against Islamic terror being waged by a ‘patriotic’ CM and his intrepid office, with the active support of policemen like DIG Vanzara, an ‘encounter’ specialist who is now in jail in connection with the Sohrabuddin case.
Sohrabuddin Sheikh was killed in cold blood on 26 November 2005, three days after he and his wife, Kausarbi, were seized from a bus on the Hyderabad-Bombay Highway. A few days later, Kausarbi was taken away in a Maruti car by policemen, killed, and her body burnt; and Tulsiram Prajapati, a material witness, was murdered in another fake ‘encounter’ on 28 December 2006.
Till date, the Gujarat police faces allegations of killing 20 people in 11 fake encounters from 2002 to 2006. The maker of Godhra Tak, Shubhradeep Chakravorty’s latest documentary, Encountered on Saffron Agenda? covers the encounters of Ishrat Jehan and Javed Sheikh (June 2004), Sohrabuddin Sheikh (November 2005), Sameer Khan Pathan (October 2002) and Sadiq Jamal (January 2003)—all in Gujarat, with the police claiming that those killed were out to assassinate CM Modi.
Political observers believe fake ‘encounter’ killings is the Gujarat CM’s way of securing Hindu vote banks. In doing so, he portrays himself as tough on ‘Islamic terror’ and someone who has the interests of the nation at heart.
So it may be useful to keep track of all the people accused of any involvement in plots to assassinate the Gujarat CM. Because they, too, could soon be bumped off in a fake ‘encounter’ of the ‘Modi’ kind.