Under full media glare, Uttar Pradesh police on Thursday shot dead two criminals, accused of murdering six persons including two Hindu priests, in Aligarh district.
Local journalists and television crew were formally invited as the policemen, wearing bulletproof vests, were seen aiming their guns at the criminals, later identified as Naushad and Mustakeem, who were hiding in an abandoned building.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Aligarh, Ajay Sahni, said the criminals were passing through a police checkpoint on a bike and when they were asked to stop. The criminals however tried to escape. Policemen chased them for about five kilometres.
The duo fired at the police which retaliated, resulting in an encounter. Additional police force was summoned to deal with the situation.
The district police chief added that five more persons had been arrested for their involvement in these six murders that took place in one month.
Police added that the two criminals were trying to intimidate a police witness and were planning to kill him.
The police and the state government have been under fire from human rights organizations and under the lens of the judiciary as around 1,000 encounters have taken place in the state since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power.
Sixty-six criminals and four policemen have been killed in these gun battles so far.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has defended these encounters saying criminals cannot be allowed to endanger the lives of innocent and peace-loving people.