February 20, 2019 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Jalandhar: Family members of four Sikh youth killed by the police on 4 February 1986 held a press conference at Jalandhar on Tuesday (Feb. 19) and raised a demand that the government should table “action taken report” in the state assembly. Notably the state government led by Parkash Singh Badal had quietly tabled the report of Justice Gurnam Singh in the state assembly on Marcy 5, 2001 but no action taken report was tabled at that time or any time afterwards.
The victim families demanded that criminal charges must be brought against police officials responsible for killing 4 Sikh youth protesting against the Beadbi incident in Nakodar. They demanded investigation into the role played by Darbara Singh Guru and the then SSP Izhar Alam.
It may be recalled that five Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib were burnt in Nakodar on February 2 1986 in Guru Arjan Ji Gurudwara. There was a sense of anger among local Sikhs who suspected foul play. A peaceful march of Sikhs was on its way to take over Seva of burnt Saroops when the police opened gunfire fire. Four Sikh youth were killed by the police firing- Bhai Ravinder Singh of Littran, Bhai Baldhir Singh of Ramgarh, Bhai Jhilman Singh of Gorsian and Bhai Harminder Singh of Chlupur.
Shiromani Akali Dal was in power when this incident took place. The families of the deceased have been running pillar to post demanding justice for over 33 years.
A government commission of inquiry led by Justice Gurnam Singh was established soon after the incident. The commission report is clear in it findings that the police action was unjustified and unnecessary. There are striking parallels between the Nakodar incident and the more recent Kotkapoora/Behbal Kalan firing. The police officials responsible for the Behbal Kalan firing have been charged and arrested, the family members of the victims of the Nakodar firing are demanding that action must also be taken against those responsible for the deaths of their loved ones. The guilty must be arrested and must face the full force of the law.
The victims’ families have been demanding that the inquiry be tabled in the assembly and made public. They were pained to hear that the inquiry was tabled in the assembly back in 2001 secretively and out of the public eye.
The inquiry unequivocally assigned blame for the deaths on the police officials but the government of Parkash Badal took no action against the accused. Instead, Badal inducted the key accused into the Akali Dal and awarded them with high posts within the party thereby providing them political strength to escape the law. All Punjabis want to know why did the Badal government conspired to keep the report away from the media and public eye when it was being tabled in the Vidhan Sabha?
Why does Badal want to save the culprits?
At the time of the incident in 1986, Izhar Alam was the SSP and Darbara Guru was the the Additional Deputy Commissioner who had all the powers of the Magistrate. Why did Darbara Guru sign the orders for the post mortem in the middle of the night? Why was Harminder Singh killed under the custody of the police? Why did Guru not take any action against the police officials who declared the victims’ bodies unidentified and cremated them in secret? Why did the Badal government not order any action against the accused? Badal needs to clarify why did he give these two Akali Dal election tickets? People of Punjab will ask these questions of these two officers turned politicians and their political masters when they come asking for their votes.
Bodies Cremated in Secret
Bapu Baldev Singh, father of Bhai Ravinder Singh of Littran stated that cruelty brought on the families went beyond any limits when police cremated the bodies after declaring them unidentified while he pleaded with them to hand over the body of his son and others.
He explained that he had come to know about the firing and his son’s death. The town was under curfew but with the help of two of his friends he made it to the Nakodar Police Station. He was able to see the bodies of the victims and pleaded with the officials on duty to hand over the body of his son. He even volunteered to make arrangements to send the bodies of the other victims to their families. He was tricked by the police to go to the Nakodar Police station to get a written order from the SHO for the release of bodies. The police then took the bodies to a nearby crematory and later claimed that the bodies were unidentified and unclaimed.
Harminder Singh killed in cold blood by Inspector Jaskirat Singh
Eyewitnesses have stated that Harminder Singh had escaped the initial firing and taken shelter in a nearby Natha Singh’s lumber mill where Inspector Jaskirat Singh apprehended the unarmed youth and shot him in the mouth at point blank range. FIR registered by Jaskirat himself states that Harminder was injured when arrested. The post mortem report corroborates the eyewitness version and raises more questions about the intentions of the police officers that day. It is notable that Harminder was the district convener of the All India Sikh Students Federation at the time.
The families of the victims are demanding that a SIT be established and the guilty officials be charged so they can finally get justice, even if it is after over 33 years.
Bapu Baldev Singh Singh disclosed that his family has supported the Shiromani Akali Dal for generations and that he was very disappointed when the leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal Sukhbir Singh Badal came within 1.5 km of his village for a meeting on the 33rd anniversary of the incident but did not bother to pay respects to the victims. Blaming the Badals for cashing in on the deaths of innocent Sikhs for their own political fortunes, he compared Darbara Guru and Izhar Alam to Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, and demanded that the Badal duo explain why they adopted the two officials as their political kin.
While noting that the Hindu community at the time stood by the victims, the families are demanding that the role of then Shiv Sena leaders in the sacrilege be investigated. The families also thanked MLAs Kanwar Singh Sandhu, H S Phoolka, Kultar Singh Sandhwan, Gurpartap Singh Wadala, and MP Dharamvir Gandhi for raising the issue and demanding that the current government present the Action Taken Report. The families acknowledged that at the time of the incident the then Nakodar MLA Kuldip Singh Wadala, Surinder Singh Thammanwal and Surjit Singh Minhas (ex. speaker) stood by the victims’ families in demanding justice.