The term “police encounter” was often used during the Punjab insurgency between 1984 and 1995.
During this time, Punjab police officials reported “encounters” to local newspapers and to the family members of those killed. The victim was typically a person whom the police believed to be a militant or involved in the militant separatist movement; proof of alleged militant involvement was rarely given. Such encounters have also been referred to as “staged encounters” or “fake encounters,”
as these deaths were often believed to be the result of torture or outright execution. Ultimately, the practice became so common that “encounter” became synonymous with extrajudicial execution. The Punjab police specifically targeted the families of suspected militants in encounter killings to punish them.
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