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Indian system, Punjab politicians unconcerned about impunity for human rights abuses in Punjab

December 16, 2015 | By

Chandigarh: Recent revelations and open confessions by a former Punjab cop Gurmeet Pinky has once again exposed the truth of so-called counter insurgency operations undertaken by the Indian forces during 1980s-90s in Punjab.

Gurmeet Pinky, a police cat turned cop – who was dismissed from the service after being convicted for murder in 2006, has given a long interview to senior journalist Kanwar Sandhu in which he confessed his involvement in brutal killings of the Sikh youth in fake encounters (to watch video of the interview, check links given at the end of this write-up).

Earlier also, some police officials have made such revelations but Gurmeet Pinky’s revelation are vast and more detailed. He has confirmed the phenomena of police cats, enforced disappearances, fake encounters, custodial torture and killings and secret cremation of dead bodies.

Gurmeet Pinky | Photo courtesy: YouTube/ Kanwar Sandhu

Gurmeet Pinky | Photo courtesy: YouTube/ Kanwar Sandhu

Gurmeet Pinky has named senior police officials including former Punjab DGP Sumedh Saini, B. S. Gill, R. K. Bedi, Shiv Kumar, Guddu Shamsher Singh, Sant Kumar and others who were responsible or involved in committing or ordering fake encounters and custodial killings of Sikh youth. Notably through his interview the revelations are limited to incident in which he was directly involved as he mentioned only a few incidents (Jatana family elimination and Jaswant Singh Khalra murder case) where he maintains that he had no direct link.

His disclosures have confirmed the fact of systematic and widespread human rights abuses by the Punjab police and other Indian security forces during 1980s-90s in Punjab. The description of crimes as given by Gurmeet Pinky sufficiently forms basis from which to call the human rights in Punjab as “Crimes against Humanity”.

It seems that Gurmeet Pinky’s irritation is that some low rank officials like him have been facing criminal charges or jail terms in relation to killings of the Sikh youth, while senior officials who had ordered such killings were enjoying high positions. He says that they (low rank officials) were just following “superior orders” and the ultimate responsibility was that of senior officials (who are enjoying impunity).

It may be recalled here that Gurmeet Pinky was convicted in a murder case in 2006. The case dates back to 2001 and was not related to militancy era or the phenomena of enforced disappearances and fake encounter killings. He was granted premature release in 2014 and was reinstated in police service in 2015, but the his reinstatement was revoked after it sparked a political controversy.

Pinky has revealed that the state is paying pensions to families of police officials convicted for human rights abuses in Punjab from a “secret fund” raised under the garb of “litigation cell”.

He revealed that his family was given pension by the state from a secret fund during his jail terms. He said that he continued to receive such pension till his reinstatement in the police force.

It needs to be clarified here that only a few cases of human rights abuses actually came to trial and even few of such cases resulted in conviction of culprit police officials.

All this point towards well co-ordinated “policy of impunity”.

Gurmeet Pinky’s disclosures also exposes the real state of affairs of the Indian judiciary. He reveals that dozens of the cases related to human rights abuses in Punjab have been stayed by the Supreme court of India (SCI).

Senior Human Rights lawyer R. S. Bains told Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) in a special interview (video to be released soon) that witnesses in many of these cases are at the last stage of their lives.

“The proceeding stand stayed for past many years. The witnesses wish to depose before leaving this world but the court are not ready to record their witness. What are they (the courts) waiting for? … waiting for the witnesses to vanish?” asked Advo. R. S. Bains.

People's Commission in Punjab [File Photo]

People’s Commission in Punjab [File Photo]

Notably, the Indian judiciary had snubbed the effort of human rights activists to bring the people’s sufferings to the record by “banning” the “People’s Commission” (Watch Video Below) back in late 1990s.

Traditional political leadership of Punjab had abandoned the issue of human rights abuses long ago. The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) had promised action against culprit police officials before 1997 elections but after attaining political power it formed litigation cell to protect the culprit police officials.

Punjab’s political parties, including the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), the Congress Party and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) held massive rallies and political muscle flexing exercises in Punjab on December 15 but none of these parties raised issue of massive human rights abuses disclosed by Gurmeet Pinky. The only exception is AAP MPs’ statements in the Indian parliament demanding action against culprit police officials or forming the “truth commission”. But mere statement are not enough and it is to be seen if the AAP would show sincerity to make it part of it’s manifesto for 2017 elections in Punjab (even action beyond this would be required as even the SAD (Badal) had also promised action against police officials before 1997 elections).

The present situation is such that the Punjab looks like a blind impunity zone where none from the system, be it parliament, executive, judiciary or the political parties seem concerned to end or challenge the policy of impunity. It is a big challenge for those concerned about human rights as impunity is the ominous sign of future abuses.


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Videos of Gurmeet Pinky’s Interview with Kanwar Sandhu



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