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Anatomy of a Denial of Justice – The 1986 Saka Nakodar Incident

October 13, 2023 | By

The Punjab & Haryana High Court’s decision on October 7, 2023, is based on the order issued by SSP Jalandhar on May 31, 2023. Justice Avneesh Jhingon’s order states, “The present petition seeks directions for the registration of an FIR by respondents No.1 to 4, based on the inquiry report submitted by the ‘Justice Gurnam Singh Commission of Inquiry, Punjab.’ It also aims to establish a high-level, independent Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the events leading to the killing of four individuals in an incident that occurred on February 4, 1986, in Nakodar. The State counsel, as instructed by Sukhpal Singh, DSP, Sub Division Nakodar, District Jalandhar (Rural), and Inspector Satpal Singh Sidhu, SHO, Police Station City Nakodar, has submitted that a portion of the inquiry report was misplaced. Furthermore, he has informed us that, following the petitioner’s representation, the SIT has been constituted and that four FIRs related to the incident have been registered.”

In accordance with SSP Jalandhar’s order dated May 31, 2023, the SIT team was given a 30-day deadline to report their findings to the SSP. However, when the High Court issued the order to dispose of the petitions filed by Baldev Singh Littran, 129 days had passed. The question arises as to why the High Court did not inquire about the findings of the SIT report. What efforts were made to locate the misplaced portion of the Justice Gurnam Singh Commission’s Judicial Inquiry Report? Where and how was it misplaced, and when will the petitioner receive a copy of it? As for the statement that “four FIRs relating to the incident were registered,” when were these FIRs registered? Against whom were these FIRs registered? Do these FIRs pertain to the murder or the lost report, and are they recent or from 1986?

The SSP’s order also instructed the SIT team to include petitioner Baldev Singh in the investigation. However, why was Baldev Singh not informed that an SIT had been constituted, and why was he not advised to meet with the SIT team?

Furthermore, the petitioner’s counsel was not allowed to raise these concerns during the oral argument, and the petitioner’s request to constitute a high-level SIT, preferably by the CBI, which at least offers some independence, was completely disregarded. It appears futile for a SIT comprising Punjab Police officials to investigate other Punjab Police officials regarding the disappearance of the Judicial Inquiry Report from the Home Secretary or Speaker’s office.

On February 4, 1986, four unarmed Sikh students, Ravinder Singh, Harminder Singh, Jhilman Singh, and Baldhir Singh, were murdered in broad daylight while peacefully protesting the sacrilege of SGGS. Their postmortems were conducted in the dead of night, and the police cremated their bodies without the presence of any family members. The state government had ordered a Judicial Inquiry by retired HC Justice Gurnam Singh, and to this day, its findings remain undisclosed. It took 33 years to receive partial findings from the judicial report, which revealed that “all four victims were targeted for killing, shot in their vital organs, with the sole purpose of taking their lives.” The High Court’s decision to dismiss Bapu Baldev Singh’s petitions after an extended period has undermined the integrity of the justice system.

Our hearts are broken, and hope for justice seems distant. It appears as though the police, government, and judiciary are operating in a coordinated manner, denying justice in the case of the 1986 #SakaNakodar.

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