December 4, 2016 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Ropar: A trial court in Ropar (Rupnagar) on December 3, 2016 acquitted four Punjab police personnel, including former Punjab director general of police SK Sharma, in case 1991 fake encounter case while reportedly granting “benefit of doubt” to the accused.
Ropar Sessions judge BS Sandhu reportedly granted benefit of doubt to the four accused, including then Morinda station house officer Balkar Singh, ex-deputy inspector general SPS Basra and former assistant sub-inspector Gurcharan Singh, former Punjab DGP SK Sharma in fake encounter of a Sikh youth named Kuldeep Singh.
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As per prosecution case Kuldeep Singh, son of Ajaib Singh of Amrali village was picked up by police on October 24, 1990, from Krishna Mandi area in Morinda.
On May 15, 1991, Ajaib Singh read a report in a newspaper wherein then Patiala senior superintendent of police (SSP) SK Sharma claimed that Kuldeep Singh was killed in an encounter at Tholiwal village under the Barnala police station on May 1.
The family of Kuldeep Singh pursued a long legal battle and Indian courts took about 13 years to frame the charges. As per information collected by the Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) charges were framed against the accused cops on June 3, 2014 under sections 201, 364, 302 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code(IPC).
Kuldeep Singh family members were dissatisfied and saddened by the court verdict. Bapu Ajaib Singh said that injustice had been done to them. He said that they would appeal against the judgment in the high court.
It is notable that during 1980s-90s secret confinements, custodial torture, fake encounters and enforced disappearances were a common policing practise in Punjab.
Many Sikhs, including women, were subjected to enforced disappearances by Punjab police or other Indian security forces.
Human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra had traced documentary evidence regarding secret cremations of dead bodies of Sikhs who were extra-judicially killed by Punjab police.
Jaswant Singh Khalra was able to secure the records of three cremations grounds – Tarn Taran, Patti and Durgiana Mandir cremation grounds in Amritsar. This record was strong a evidence against the Punjab police that was indulged enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and secret cremations.
On September 6, 1995 Jaswant Singh Khalra was also subjected to enforced disappearance and soon after that the record of all cremation grounds across the state was seized, and made inaccessible, by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation).
Perpetrators of these crimes and systematic human rights abuses were rewarded with promotions and high ranks in Punjab police by the State.
Cops who practised these acts (amounting to “Crimes against humanity” under International law) are enjoying state patronage and impunity.
There were only few instances where the guilty were charged or tried and convictions were there in very rare cases.