The National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday sent a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government over Chief Minister Adityanath’s alleged endorsement of encounter killings in the state. The human rights body said that the state must submit a detailed report on the matter within six weeks.

Adityanath, during a rally at the Ramleela ground in Ghaziabad on November 18, had said, “We will make life difficult for criminals. They will have only two places to go: either they will be sent to jail, or they will be killed in police encounters.”

The NHRC said that as of October 5, official statistics showed that 433 encounters had taken place in Uttar Pradesh within a period of six months starting in March 2017, when the Adityanath government came to power. As many as 19 criminals were killed in these encounters, and 89 injured.

“Even if the law and order situation is grave, the State cannot resort to such mechanisms [encounters], which may result in the extra judicial killings of the alleged criminals,” the NHRC said. “The reported statement of the chief minister is tantamount to giving police and other State-governed forces, a free hand to deal with the criminals at their will and, possibly, it may result in abuse of power by public servants.”