The Assam government on Thursday rejected allegations of fake shootouts in the state, reported PTI.

While State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pijush Hazarika maintained that some casualties and injuries have occurred due to police action, he claimed that the police fired in self-defence in those cases.

“No one has been killed in police encounters,” Hazarika told the Assembly in response to a question. “The government has repeatedly made this statement. Why should we time and again put our police personnel to questioning?”

Since Himanta Biswa Sarma became the chief minister of the state in May 2021, Assam has seen a number of police shootings. Many of those injured and killed belong to the state’s ethnic and religious minorities. The police defend their actions, claiming that the accused persons were gunned down after tried to flee or attacked officials.

In February, the Assam Human Rights Commission had found two officials guilty of killing a man accused of theft in a fake gunfight in 2021.

However, Hazarika claimed on Thursday that no innocent person has been killed in police action. Towing the police line, he said that the police had to fire at the accused persons when they allegedly tried to snatch weapons or escape from custody, reported PTI.

The minister said that 138 cases of such police action have been registered in Assam from May 2021 to February 2023, during which 26 persons have been killed and 120 injured.

However, an affidavit submitted by the Assam government to the Gauhati High Court in November on police action showed that 56 persons had died, including four custodial deaths, and 145 were injured in 171 incidents between May 2021 and August 2022.

On Thursday, Hazarika also told the House that action against 16 police personnel has been initiated for lapses in cases of police shootouts.

“There could be lacunae in some cases,” he said, according to PTI. “Clean chit has not been given to the police either. That is why we have taken action against them”, Hazarika said.”