July 29, 2019 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
New Delhi: A CBI Superintendent of Police, who probed a case related to abduction and killing of three persons against former Punjab DGP Sumedh Saini, has turned hostile.
A report in The Tribune (TT) noted that standard replies given by IO Dharampal Singh (now retired) to queries from CBI’s Special public prosecutor Kumar Rajat were like: “I have no knowledge…”, “I do not remember…”, “I do not recollect now” and “I am unable to identify…”.
Sumedh Saini is facing trial along with three others for abduction and killing of automobile businessman Vinod Kumar, his brother-in-law Ashok Kumar and their driver Mukhtiyar Singh. While Vinod Kumar and Mukhtiyar Singh were picked up by the police from the parking lot of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on March 15, 1994, Ashok Kumar was abducted from Ludhiana the same day.
As per The Tribune (TT) report Dharampal Singh, who had filed the chargesheet against Saini and three others in the case, was declared hostile after he showed “aggressive behavior” to the special public prosecutor and tried to controvert him “without listening (to) and understanding the query…”
“I cannot say whether the enmity between accused Saini and Vinod Kumar (who went missing) aggravated due to filling of petitions in the High Court by Vinod Kumar and issuance of bailable warrants and contempt notice to Saini,” the IO said in his testimony recorded on July 20.
As he failed to support his own chargesheet, Special Judge Anju Bajaj Chandana noted, “It appears that the witness (IO) has made up his mind to counter every question of the learned special PP”.
On another occasion, the IO said, “I do not remember that Ashish Kumar (Vinod’s brother) was forcibly taken away on February 24, 1994, by Paramjeet Singh (co-accused). I do not remember about details of police custody and judicial custody of Ashish Kumar. I do not know Ashok Kumar was taken away by the Punjab Police at the instance of Saini.”
According to TT, on yet another occasion, the IO said, “I do not remember whether Ashish Kumar and Pramod Kumar (Vinod’s brother who allegedly committed suicide) had filed their affidavits in the High Court on the directions of Saini to ensure the release of missing persons. I do not remember that Ashok Kumar was taken away by the Punjab Police at the instance of Saini.”
As he contradicted his own investigation, the CBI special public prosecutor cross-examined him. On Monday, he is likely to be cross-examined by the defence counsel.
Sumedh Saini faces charges of killing three in illegal custody:
According to a news reported in 2013 by YesPunjab, an online news portal by senior Punjab journalist HS Bawa, Saini is an accused along with three other police officers in a case filed by the CBI befor ethe Delhi CBI court in an FIR registered on April 18, 1994, at Delhi on the directions of Punjab and Haryana high court. The Ludhiana-based businessman Vinod Kumar, his brother-in-law Ashok Kumar and their driver Mukhtiyar Singh had been taken into custody on March 15, 1994, at a police station in Ludhiana after which they went missing. The CBI had claimed that Saini (then Ludhiana SSP) nursed a grudge against Vinod and booked him in a case of economic offences.
The case against Saini Saini and three other police officers, namely Sukhmohinder Singh (then Ludhiana SP), inspector Paramjit Singh (then SHO, Ludhiana) and inspector Balbir Chand Tiwari (then SHO police station Kotwali), was registered by the CBI on the Punjab and Haryana high court directions.
Later, the Supreme Court had transferred the case trial in 2004 from the Ambala court to Delhi on the plea of Vinod’s mother Amar Kaur who had alleged that the powerful accused might influence the trial. The CBI in 2006 had chargesheeted Saini and the other accused under sections 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 342 (wrongful confinement) of the IPC. The CBI court had later framed charges against them.
Other Cases Against Sumedh Saini Lay Buried:
According to various Human Rights bodies the present DGP of Punjab was involved in mass level abuse of Human rights in Punjab in late-1980s to mid-1990s. This was a period when unlawful custody, custodial torture, enforced disappearances, fake encounters and extra-judicial killings were common policing practices in Punjab.
Jatana Family Elimination Case:
“Dead Silence: Legacy of Human Rights abuses in Punjab”, a report by Human Rights Watch (formerly Asia Watch) notes (at Page. 17-18):
In another case, one senior officer’s use of police to carry out acts of reprisal caused controversy with the police force itself. After SSP Sumedh Singh Saini narrowly escaped an assassination attempt on August 29, 1991,[…] that same day police from Saini’s station came to the home village of the militant leader of the Babbar Khalsa group and took down the names of five of his relatives who lived in one house. Later that night, gunmen surrounded the house and opened fire, killing three women and a five-year-old child, and then set fire to the house. The next morning, a plainclothes policeman advised the relatives to search for five bodies. The cremation was ordered to be carried out in the presence of the police. Although police officials claimed that the incident was the result of inter-gang rivalry, no group claimed responsibility. On October 17, 1991, Dinesh Kumar reported in the Times of India that the SSP of Ropar, Mohammad Mustafa, had
accused the SSP of Chandigrah, Mr. Sumedh Saini, of ordering the execution of four of [the] family members of top Babbar Khalsa [group] militant Balwinder Singh of Jatana, in retaliation for an unsuccessful attempt by militants to assassinate him. The accusation has been levelled in a confidential letter sent to the Punjab police chief, Mr. D.S. Mangat, in the first week of September…. .Highly-placed sources in the Punjab government said Mr. Mustafa accused Mr. Saini of despatching three jeep-loads of plain-clothes Chandigarh policemen to Balwinder’s native village, Jatana in Ropar district, on the night of 29 August 1991…[T]he Ropar police has officially recorded the crime as committed by “some unidentified persons believed to be militants” to avoid controversy.(Dinesh Kumar, “Police Accused of Killing Militant’s Kin,” Times of India (Bombay), October 17, 1991.)
Sumedh Saini was able to evade any inquiry or investigation in this case.
Prof. Bhullar’s relatives’ elimination case:
According to various human rights bodies in December 1991 Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar’s father, uncle and friend were abducted by the police under the orders of then Chandigarh SSP Sumedh Saini.
In July 2008, on the orders of Punjab & Haryana High Court, CBI has filed a criminal case against Sumedh Saini for “abduction with intent to kill” Professor Bhullar’s father and uncle.
The CBI after conducting thorough investigations concluded that there was bundle of evidence showing Sumdh Saini’s involvement in the elimination of trio. An FIR was registered against Sumedh Saini in this case by the CBI under the orders of the High Court.
But the Punjab Government went in appeal to the Supreme Court against the High court orders clearing prosecution of Sumedh Saini in this case.
The Supreme Court of India (SCI) on December 07, 2011 quashed a Punjab and Haryana High Court order directing the CBI to investigate the enforced disappearance of the three innocent Sikhs.
A division bench of Justices B. S. Chauhan and A. K. Patnaik termed the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s single judge bench’s order as “erroneous”. The Supreme Court of India suffered a deliberate failure to take suo-moto notice of the findings of the CBI inquiry or order a fresh inquiry itself.
All this has resulted in blind impunity to the culprits of mass level human rights abuses and denial of justice to the victims.