Of late, the Uttar Pradesh Police and the Administration has been garnering bad publicity in the wake of allegations of Fake Encounters being levelled against them and the chorus to get the same investigated by the National Human Rights Commission or probed by impartial bodies growing louder by the day.

Recently nine families of victims of those killed in encounters in Uttar Pradesh, led by social activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan had met the NHRC chairperson justice H.L. Dattu on 8 May.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) consequently issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh (UP) chief secretary and the state director general of police (DGP) and ordered an investigation into the alleged cases of ‘Fake Encounters’.

Now close on the heels, comes the news of Gangster Prem Prakash Singh aka Munna Bajrangi being shot dead inside Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat District Jail on Monday. He was brought to District Jail Baghpat from Jhansi in the night and was to appear in Baghpat court in connection with an ongoing trial related to a case of extortion the next morning.

Though the facts are difficult to be ascertained independently, as its an incident that has taken place inside a highly secure prison, but it is said that on on 09 July at 0630 hrs, a convict lodged in the jail shot him dead and hid the pistol in the gutter. Such an incident opens a pandoras’ box not only about the prison security across the state, but the ease with which deadly convicts in custody can gain access to weapons to kill someone being provided extra security due to threat perceptions. “Few days ago, we had made Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath aware of the threat to Munna Bajrangi’s life” said advocate V. Srivastava, soon after hearing of the murder.

It is indeed strange that barely a week before the murder, Munna Bajrangi’s wife, Seema Singh had also expressed her apprehensions that her husband was on the hit list of the state police. “I want to tell Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath ji that my husband’s life is in danger. A conspiracy is being hatched to kill him in a fake encounter,” Seema had said, the video of which has been making rounds on social media.

Despite the wife’s pleas and fear expressed by her, much in advance, about the danger to the life of her husband from the police, she could not save Bajrangi from being murdered inside the four walls of a highly secured prison.

Forensic Unit team arrived at Baghpat in the afternoon. SP Baghpat said, “Sunil Rathi has been accused of killing Gangster Munna Bajrangi. Body sent for postmortem, fair investigation will be done.” Further details in the matter are awaited.

However, the news that ‘Munna Bajrangi”, who already had threats to his life, being shot dead in custody is appalling and astounding and casts aspersions on, not only the Uttar Pradesh Police Department but also the govt that has already become infamous on the governance front. The latter has been visible in the numerous cases highlighted by the media. The more prominent being the handling of the Gorakhpur Hospital Oxygen Tragedy last year that cost the lives of scores of children, with blames and counter blames flying thick and thin.

Munna Bajrangi Yogi Adityanath
Munna Bajrangi being produced in a court under heavy police escort (File Photo)

Even the killing of the father of the Unnao rape victim in police custody is a matter that doesn’t speak well of the police department and the Uttar Pradesh government. The increase in frequency of such events since Yogi Adityanath took over the reins of chief ministership of Uttar Pradesh is a sure sign that something is not right. Something that needs to be identified and course correction adopted asap.

Reflecting on the incident, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that he will get an in-depth investigation into the matter. “We have ordered a judicial inquiry and suspension of the jailor. Such an incident occurring inside jail premises is a serious matter. Will conduct an in-depth investigation and strict action to be taken against those responsible,” Adityanath said.

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