The Uttar Pradesh Police on Thursday shot dead a suspected criminal, making him the eighth person to be killed in 60 encounters across districts in the last 25 days, The Indian Express reported. The police said that Manoj Kumar Singh, who is wanted in 17 cases, was killed around 3.30 am on Thursday in Hariharpur village of Sitapur district.

The police have killed 38 suspected criminals since the Bharatiya Janata Party government came to power in March 2017. The daily, which sourced data from the police headquarters, reported 1,142 encounters had taken place between March 20, 2017, and January 31. In these incidents, 34 suspected criminals were killed – four more have died since then – and 265 were injured, while 2,744 people were arrested. Nearly 247 police personnel suffered injuries.

The Opposition on Thursday alleged a number of these encounters were staged and that the police had killed many innocent people. Samajwadi Party legislators in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly and Legislative Council protested against the law and order situation in the state.

Chief Minister Adityanath (pictured above), responded that criminals “who want to disturb peace of the society and believe in the gun, should be given an answer in the language of the gun itself”, The Indian Express reported.

Speaking at an event in Gorakhpur, Adityanath said, “I would tell the administration, that there is no need to worry about this.” He also criticised the Samajwadi Party and said its behaviour was “unparliamentary”.

On February 4, a sub-inspector was arrested and three other police personnel were suspended for allegedly shooting at a 25-year-old gym trainer in the city of Noida. The man’s family members had alleged that it was a fake encounter, but the police ruled it out. The National Human Rights Commission later accused the “higher-ups” in Uttar Pradesh of allowing the police to freely misuse their power and “settle scores with people”.

In November 2017, the human rights body had sent a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government over Chief Minister Adityanath’s alleged endorsement of encounter killings in the state. Adityanath 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.”