From Ishrat Jahan to Hyderabad case: 5 most controversial encounter killings in India

Since the ambush on a police party on its way to arrest gangster Vikas Dubey on June 2-3 night, six have died in police encounters in Uttar Pradesh. Vikas Dubey — the sixth — was shot dead Friday morning. Police said he tried to flee and attacked the cops who were taking him from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh – where he was arrested on Thursday – to Kanpur.

The circumstances of these encounters have created controversy over the genuineness of the police action. This is not, however, the first instance when an encounter has come under the scanner. Here are five others which led to raging controversies:


Ishrat Jahan was a 19-year-old woman from Mumbai, who was killed in an encounter in 2004. Three men were also killed in that encounter with the Gujarat police.

The police had said Ishrat Jahan was part of a terror plot hatched to assassinate Narendra Modi, then the Gujarat chief minister. The encounter became hugely controversial with human rights activists and BJP’s rival parties alleging that it was a targeted killing.

The Supreme Court ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the killings, in which the role of several police officers of Gujarat came under probe.

DG Vanzara, the police officer who led the encounter and spent time in jail, was discharged from the case 17 years later, in 2019. The trial is still underway in a CBI court in Ahmedabad.


Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi were killed in an encounter with the Gujarat police in 2005. The police said Sohrabuddin was part of a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) module.

This case was also handed over to the CBI after court’s intervention. Then Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah was named as one of the accused in this case. He was later discharged. In 2018, the special CBI court acquitted 22 accused for lack of evidence.


Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya was killed in an encounter with the Mumbai Police in 2006. Lakhan Bhaiya was considered a member of the Chhota Rajan gang.

Within a week of the encounter, Lakhan Bhaiya’s family moved the Bombay High Court seeking a probe into the encounter. An investigation was ordered.

The probe showed Lakhan Bhaiya was killed at point-blank range. He had been picked up from Navi Mumbai by police on the day of his encounter. In 2013, 21 people including 13 police personnel were sentenced to life. It is one of the rare cases in which people involved in a police encounter were convicted.


This was a case in which public sentiment supported the police action. The Andhra Pradesh police had gunned down three men in Warrangal in 2008.

The deceased persons were accused of throwing acid on two engineering college students, who had rejected a proposal by one of the accused.

Police said they acted in self-defence but many believed the action was to pacify public sentiment of the time. VC Sajjanar was the superintendent of police in Warrangal at the time. Another encounter would take place under his police department in Hyderabad years later.


In November last year, a young veterinary doctor was abducted, gangraped, smothered to death and her body charred in Hyderabad. The news shocked the conscience of the nation.

Eight days after her body was found near NH-44, four persons accused in the case were killed near the same highway. The Cyberabad police said the four snatched police weapons and tried to flee during a spot-verification exercise.

Public sentiment was overwhelmingly in favour of the encounter. At some places, people even showered flower petals on the police. VC Sajjanar was the commissioner of police this time in Cyberabad, and like in Warrangal, he was hailed as a hero.

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