PUCL Bulletin, Oct. 2000

Report of Alleged Encounter in Sahi Minapur
28 July 2000

1) A complaint was received by PUCL, Bihar alleging killing of three young persons in a false encounter at Sahi Minapur village by Aurai Police of Muzaffarpur District. The complaint with all relevant papers was received by the PUCL, Muzaffarpur on 7th May for investigation/enquiry into the matter. PUCL Muzaffarpur also received several requests from local people.
2) PUCL, Muzaffarpur in its meeting of 17th May constituted a team to enquire and find out the truth. The team consisted of the following persons:-
1. Surendra Kumar, General Secretary, PUCL, Muzaffarpur
2. Dr. Vikas Narayan Upadhyaya, Vice-President, PUCL, Muzaffarpur
3. Dr. Anil Arun, Member, Executive Committee, PUCL, Muzaffarpur
3) The team went through available papers and reporting of newspapers regarding the said incident. Then the team visited the place of occurrence on 25th May 2000 and held discussions with independent and unattached men of the area. The team, then meet those persons at Sahi Minaur who were affected by the action of the police. The team also visited the place of occurrence (maize field in Balasath village) mentioned in the FIR of the police. The team met some independent persons they are also. After that the team meet police officials present at Aurai Police Station to know their side. The team had talks with independent individuals including some shopkeepers at Aurai to find out the truth about the incident.
4) Shri Uday Kumar, officer in Aurai Police Station file FIR No. 034/2000 in Aurai Police Station on 14th April 2000. An approximate translation of the FIR is as follows:-

I got confidential information from reliable sources at 9 A.M. on 14th April 2000 that a number of Criminals from outside have assembled at the house of a noted Criminals and absconder, Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi at Sahi Minapur village. They are planning to commit docoity. I constituted a raid party under my leadership. The raid party consisted of three ASI, one Hawaldar and nine Constables. The raid party started for Sahi Minapur on a government jeep No. BR 06C-1867. We are reached Sahi Minaput at 11 AM we saw two motorcycles and 6 or 76 persons standing in front of the house of the Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi. All of them began to flee in north direction towards chaur after they saw the police. I ordered them to halt and began to chase them they (criminals) started firing on police party with their arms. I ordered them not to fire but to surrender. Then, I asked each one from the police t5o fire one round. After these, all the criminals enter into maize field to hide themselves. They continued firing from the field. I ordered the police party to take line position and fire. The firing from the maize field stopped after sometime we began combing operation to search for the criminals after surrounding the maize field three criminals were found dead lying withing circumference of ten feet/ inches. The local chowkidar, Sonfi Paswan, identify one of them Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi. We had one 9 MM pistol in his right hand. A loaded country made revolver was found in possession of the second criminal. A driving license with photograph was recovered from his pocket. He was identified as Sunitl Kumar Thakur, Vill. Bakhara, P.S. Motipur, Dist. Muzaffarpur. The third Criminal had a country made revolver in his hand. He could not be identified. After inspection, I found that in total 37 rounds were fired by the police. Out of fear no one among the villagers were ready to become a witness. I prepared a seizure list in the presence of Sonfi Paswan, Chowkidar and Lakshman Singh, Hawaldar that indicates recovery of pistols and cartridges. They put their signatures on the seizure list. The dead bodies were taken out from maize field and kept in the wheat field. There after, the bodies were loaded in the police jeep. We came to the road and made a seizure list of the two motor-cycles left by the Criminals. After returning to the Police Station, the FIR was registered.

5) The enquiry team of PUCL reached Sahi Minapur at 1 P.M. on 25th May, 2000. The team took an account of the incident from villagers having independent views. They told us that the police came to the village in two jeeps at 11 a.m.; one of the jeeps was a police jeep and other one was a private closed jeep. Both the jeeps stopped about 100'-150' before the house of Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi, Sunil Kumar Thakur and Manoj were standing in front of Satyendra Sahi's house at that time. The police arrested them at once, but Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi who was standing at a distance of few yards began to flee in the north direction. Sunil and Manoj were left there under custody. The office incharge with some policemen began to search the house of some of the villagers. They further blamed that the searches were without any search warrant; members present in the families including the ladies were treated roughly by the search party. They used even filthy language. The police officials were selective in searching houses because they (police) used to search these houses frequently in the past without any search warrant. The police had doubt that they gave shelter to the noted Criminals like Sanjay Sahi and Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi. The police had doubt about the use of telephone in one of houses by Criminals. After completing searches, the police in two jeeps went in different direction. Sunil and Manoj were taken away in the jeep going in the north direction. Another jeep went in south direction. The villagers heard the sound of firing of eight to ten rounds soon after the firing at 12 P.M. The second jeep, which had gone in south direction returned to north. The two jeeps went out of the village at about 12.15 p.m. According two our information Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi was successful in running away to very far towards north. Looking back, when he did not see any policemen chasing him, he was returning back to the village. In the mean time the police going in north side was able to locate Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi and took him in custody. The police took him to maize field on the outskirts of the village and shot him. The maize field is in the Balasath village. The villagers told us that Guddu Sahi was of Criminal antecedents but the other two were never known to be associated in with any criminal activities.

6) The enquiry team met the villagers affected by the police action. The team visited their houses and were given the following information:-

a) Shri Ram Pravesh Sahi alias Om Prakash Sahi age 50 years, a primary school teacher posted in Katra Block told that he was at Aurai (6-7 km. from Sahi Minapur) at the residence of the local legislature. He had gone their to meet the MLA Uday Kumar, officer Incharge, Aurai was at the other end. He objected t5o his presence in the house. The officer in charge threatened him and accused him that he gave shelter to Criminals and that the Criminals often used his telephone. The officer in charge i9nformed him that a search was being carried on in his house. He threatened to kill him. As it was not proper and safe for him to return home under circumstances, Shri Ram Pravesh Sahi decided to stay therefore sometime. After some time, he heard the sound 10-15 rounds of firing in and around the police station. He come to know that three youths arrested at Sahi Minapur and brought to Aurai were shot dead.

b) Shri Chandra Sahi, age 55 years is a farmer. He was in field when the police came. He heard some sort of noise. He was returning back to his home at 11/11.15 A.M. He saw Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi running away towards the north of the village. He saw two jeeps on road near his house. Sunil and Manoj were sitting on road in custody. He saw a number of policemen enter forcibly into the houses in the neighborhood. They were creating havoc in the name of a search. The police entered into his house without any search warrant. Shri Uday Kumar, officer in charge, Aurai P.S., ransacked his "Kul Devata" (family deity) with his boot. The police terrorized him leveling false allegations about giving shelter to two criminals namely, Sanjaya Sahi and Guddu Sahi. The police took Sunil and Manoj in a jeep later in his presence.

c) Amrit Lal Sah, age 80 years is a shopkeeper. His shop is located at a distance of 100.125 feet from the house of Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi on the other side of the road. He was in his shop when the police came into two jeeps. Sunil and Manoj were caught by the police in his presence. But Guddu Sahi run away towards north. The policed asked him about the where abouts of Sanjay Sahi and Guddu Sahi. He flatly refused having any knowledge about them. He told the police that it were the police personnel who off and on visit the house of Guddu Sahi and socialize with him.

Hearing that, Mr. Rehman ASI, gave a severe below on his knee with his boot. He fell down. The police ran sacked his house during the search Sunil and Manoj were taken in custody and taken away in a jeep before his eyes at 12 PM.

d) Surendra Sahi, age 55 years is a teacher. He is the father of deceased Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi. He told us that Sunil and Manoj were going back after taking meal in his house. The police reached at that moment. They were taken into custody by the order of the officer in charge. Sunil and Manoj were sitting under custody on the road near his house. The police went away with Guddu Sahi in a jeep in the village. The jeep came back after fifteen to twenty minutes. After that Sunil and Manoj were taken in another jeep. Two jeeps went into the north direction of the village. He also followed the jeep out of fear. He heard eight to ten rounds of firing after ten minutes. The jeep returned he went to the place of occurrence. The splash of blood was found in the way. The blood was spread over an area of 12" or 15" in the maize field. The villagers working around the maize field told him that the police took Guddu Sahi alias Satyendra Sahi to the maize field. Soon, they heard the firing. The farmers and workers ran away due to fear. The jeep returned back Shri Surendra Sahi went to Aurai P. S. by scooter. He came to know about the firing on the campus of the police station and killing of three youths in a fake encounter. Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi was one of them. He had taken that matter to the court. The police exerting pressure on him to with draw the case.

(7) Place of Occurrence:-
Maize Field in Balasath Village
The members of the enquiry team visited the place of occurrence as described in the FIR. The place of occurrence is at a distance of about 1 and a half KM from the house of - Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi. Out of this 1 KM is open space. There is a river before the place of occurrence. Balasath is not under Aurai police station. It is in Nanpur police station of Sitamadhi District. The harvesting of maize crop is already finished whet crop had been harvested earlier. The team had talk with three villagers of Balasath. They told the team that Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi. Was arrested alive while returning back to Sahi Minapur. According to them he had criminal antecedents. There are several houses of fishermen near the river. They declined to say anything. The members of the team talked to shi Ratneshwar Pd. Sahi an elder and respected resident at Sahi Minapur. He said that he had seen Guddu Sahi running away to towards the river empty handed at about 11/11.30. He also confirmed about Guddu Sahi's Criminal activities. But the other two persons, he said were not of any Criminal background.

(8) Aurai Police Station:
Aurai is a "Kasba". It is situated by the side of a road. Unday Kumar, officer in charge was on leave for two days. S. Shamimur Rehman, ASI, had been on deputation in the by election of Raghopur Assembly Constituency. The two sections of the police force, which had participat6ed in the raid, had already left Aurai.

Md. Nazariudin, Ansari, S. I. Was the only official available in the police station to talk to the team.

He was not associated with the raid party. According to him, Shri Uday Kumar, officer in charge, having received some confidential information's in the morning of 14th April 2000 had gone to Sahi Minapur with four officers and nine Jawans. They chased 6 Criminals. The criminal ran away towards the police of occurrence. Three of them fled to Balasath and their maining three entere3d into the maize field. There was an exchange of firing between the criminals (hidden in the maize field) and the police. Three police were shot dead. Mr. Ansari could not give any satisfactory reply as to why there was not casualty or a wound on the side of the police. Mr. Ansari admitted the beating of Armit Sah. He accepted the fact that in practice the police searched houses without a search warrant. He gave details about pending criminal cases against Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi. Those arte given below: -
1. Laheria, P. S. Case No.-465/98 Sec.- 394, 302
2. Runnisaidpur, Case No. 9/8 Sec.- 302, 120 B, IPC, 27 Arms Act.
3. Kazi Mohammedpur, P. S. case No.- 99/97 Sec.- 299, 402 IPC
4. Aurai P. S. Case No. 109.97 Sec.- 320 (34) IPC, 27 Arms Act
5. Sitamadhi, P. S. Case No. 5/96 Sec 302 (34)
6. Aurai P. S. Case No 51/99 Sec. 302 (24) IPC 27 Arms Act.
7. Riga, P. S. Case No. 93/95 Sec 399, 402 IPC
8. Aurai P. S. Case No. 50.99 Sec.- 341, 323, 504, 353, IPC
But Mr. Ansari did not give any information about any criminal case against the other two persons. The enquiry team also inspected the police jeep, which could accommodate eight to ten persons with great difficulty.
The members of enquiry team talked to some independent persons of Aurai including some shopkeepers. We were told that as soon as the police returned to Aurai, P. S. roads leading to the police station were sealed. After a few minutes, the sound of firing was heard from Aurai Police station campus. A shopkeeper on condition of not being named told the team that Sunil had his secondary education at Aurai, as such they were known to each other. Sunil asked for water from him when kept in the jeep near the police station, but the police did not allow him to go near him.

(9) Analysis of the facts:-
The FIR filed by Shri Uday Kumar S. I. Aurai P. S. Dist.- Muzaffarpur raises certain questions, which have a bearing on what happened on that day: -
*Does it appear credible that the so-called criminals were plotting commission of dacoity at 9 AM? In the morning, and that they had assembled there own their motorcycle in the full view of the people and were standing on the road near their two motorcycles?
It is to be noted that the police have not claimed that the motorcycles were either stolen or bore fake numbers.
It is credible that the alleged criminals plotting commission of dacoity would use their own vehicles, which may lead the police to them if the vehicles were seized?
It is credible that the alleged criminals numbering only six to eight would open fire on a fully armed police twice their number and that too in broad day light an open space?
It is credible that the alleged criminals would prefer to invite certain death by firing on the armed police instead of going to jail for a short period?
Manoj and Sunil had no criminal record and were not fugitives from the law, as such they had no reason to fear from the police since they were not engaged in any criminal activities at the time the police arrived where they standing.
I it credible that the criminals were not hit when exchange of firing was taking place in an open space? They were hit as soon as they entered into the maize field. It is to be noted that the place of occurrence is 1.5 km from the point from which the police had started chasing them or it was in one kilometer an of open space where the exchange of firing took place. Nobody was injured. All the policemen and officials fired one round each i.e. 13 round in total from pistol and rifle before the criminals took shelter in the maize field.

* According to the FIR, filed by the police, police fired 37 round in total 912 round from revolver and 25 round from rifle). 13 rounds were fired when the criminals were running in an open field.
No one was injured. Police gas itself accepted in the FIR that there were no blood spot except in the maize field. 24 rounds of bullets were fired when the criminals had taken shelter in the maize field. It is surprising to note that 24 rounds of bullets were able to have 28 injuries. In other wards, bullets fired by police in the open space did not any one, but when the criminals entered into he maize field more injuries were inflicted than the bullets fired. This can never be true.

* According to the FIR three criminals were found dead side-by-side. The 9 MM pistol, with 5 live cartridges in the magazine was found in the right hand of Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi. A loaded country made revolver was found in the right hand of Sunil Kumar. The revolver contained misfired bullet. A country made revolver was also found in the hands of the third criminal. It is all included in the seizure list prepared before the witnesses.
According to post mortem report 13, 10 & 5 injuries were found on the bodies respectively of (1) Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi. (2) Sunil Kumar (3) Unknown (who was later identified as Manoj).

Is it possible to hold pistols in their hand after such grave injuries?
Were the criminals so foolish and naïve as to remain in a standing position after entering the maize field instead of lying down on the ground to let the police bullets pass over their bodies?
All the deceased have injuries caused by fire arms in the upper parts of th3eir bodies including the face, the chest, the lips, the shoulder, the abdomen. Such injuries are possible only if they were foolish enough to remain standing to be easy targets of the police or when they were caught and shot by the police.
Is it credible that in a real encounter between the alleged criminals hiding in the maize field and the police party attacking from an open space, all the casualties would be on the side, which is invisible? (I.e. alleged criminals) and none on the side, which is most vulnerable?

While the three alleged criminals died in the firing, none of the 14 policemen sustained any injury caused by firearms.
According to the post mortem report, some of the injuries caused by fire arms on the body of Sunil Kumar were burn injuries which is possible only when one is fired upon from a distance of 2-3 inches by revolvers, 6-8 inches if fired upon by a rifle. The burning on the body of Sunil Kumar leads to inescapable coclusion that he was caught and shot from a closed distance of few inches.

Is it natural for a criminal to carry his driving license when moving from his place to commit a dacoity?
According to the FIR, the police used only one jeep to carry 14-armed men and 1 driver. Is it possible to accommodate all of them in a jeep?
The place of occurrence is in Balasath village, which is under Nanpur P. S. of Sitamadhi, district out of the jurisdiction of Aurai Police Station is it not necessary to inform officials of that police station. It was not done for obvious reasons.

10) Conclusion
The inquiry team, after studying the FIR, by the police, analyzing of the post mortem report, talking to the villagers of Sahi Minapur and the shopkeepers of Aurai bazaar, the police officials of Aurai police station and inspecting the place of occurrence came to the following conclusion:-
The police raiding party headed by Shri Uday Kumar reached Sahi Minapur at 11 am on 14th April 2000. The aim of the police was to arrest a noted criminal Sanjay Sahi and his associate Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi. As soon as police reached near the shop of Amrit Sah, Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi., standing with Sunil and Manoj, on the road near his house, fled in north direction. But Sunil and Manoj remained standing there. The police arrested them. This has been confirmed by the statement by Shri Amrit Sah. The police searched the houses (without any search warrant) of Ram Pravesh Sahi, Shree Chand Sahi, Amrit Sah and others to arrest Sanjay Sahi. He could not be traced. The police in a jeep went into the police direction and in the other jeep the remaining policemen with Sunil and Manoj went to the other direction to find out Sanjay Sahi and Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi. The police going in the north direction caught Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi near the river. (According to Shri Ratneshwar Sahi also, Satyendra Sahi was running towards the river with empty hands). He (Guudu Sahi) was taken to the maize field where he was shot dead by the police. The police in the second jeep also rushed towards north direction after hearing the sound of firings. The dead body of Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi was kept in the jeep. The two jeeps retuned to Aurai. Inquiry team is confirmed by a statement of shopkeeper that Sunil was brought alive in Aurai police station Sunil had asked foe water from this shopkeeper. The police sealed all the roads leading towards police station. Sunil and Manoj were taken to the back portion of the police station, where they were shot dead. The presence of Sunil and Manoj was inconvenient for the police because they could be witnesses in the murder of Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi by the police with this in mind; the police shot dead Manoj and Sunil in Aurai police station campus. The entire incident was recorded as encounter. There was no encounter. Inquiry team is clear-cut case of killing by the police in custody. Sunil and Manoj have no criminal antecedents. Satyendra Sahi alias Guddu Sahi was of criminal background. But, he was also caught alive.

11) Recommendation
1. All the police officials and the other persons included in the raid party should be prosecuted for murder.
2. Proper compensation should be given to the family members of the deceased persons.
July 28, 2000

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