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Centre To Release 5 Cops Convicted for Human Rights Abuses in Punjab; Amarinder Singh Wants Release of 15 More

October 15, 2019 | By

Chandigarh: In yet another instance of Indian state’s policy of impunity towards State forces committing human rights abuses, the Government of India has reportedly decided to grant release to five Punjab police officials who were convicted for committing grave crimes in Punjab during 1980-90s period. As per a press release issued by Punjab CMO (Chief Minister’s Office), Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has welcomed the Centre’s decision to release five police personnel, serving sentence in various prisons of the state for human rights violations committed during the militancy period in Punjab.

“Thanking Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the decision, the Chief Minister hoped that the central government would also give due cognisance to favourably consider his plea to release other cops whose release he had sought last month”, the press release reads.

As per the release Punjab CM had sought release of 20 such police officials. He has urged the Centre to grant release to other 15 cops also.

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh (L), Union Home Minister Amit Shah (R) [File Photos]

No information about these five or twenty police guilty officials is provided by the CMO. The reason for withholding the information could be that it could lead to opposition from human rights bodies and Sikh groups.

As per CMO press release, Amarinder Singh had favoured release of guilty cops saying that they had acted in the “interest of Punjab and the country”, “for the nation” and without “any personal vested interest”.

The CMO press release also makes mention of Centre’s release to grant premature release to  8 Sikh political prisoners and to convert death sentence of 1 to imprisonment for live. “The decision comes within days of the central government’s announcement on grant of special dispensation for nine Sikh prisoners in various prisons in the country”, reads the release.

It is notable that the case of Sikh political prisoners can not be compared with that of police officials as these Sikh political prisoners have spent more years behind the bars than the minimum mandatory term that a life term convict is required to spent in the jail. These Sikh prisoners were eligible for premature release but the Indian was not allowing the same.


The period of 1980s-90s in Punjab was marred by widespread and systematic wide-spread and systematic human rights abuses by Punjab police and other Indian forces. Enforced disappearances, custodial torture and death, fake encounters were common policing practice during that period. [for more details see:- Death Silence: The Legacy of Human Rights Abuses in Punjab (by Human Rights Watch); Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India (by Ensaaf and Human Rights Watch); Reduced to Ashes: The Insurgency and Human Rights in Punjab (by CCDP); Smoldering Embers, (by Voices for Freedom)].

Punjab police had unleashed the region of state terror against civilian Sikh population of Punjab during this.

Thousands of Sikhs, mostly youth, were eliminated by Indian forces during 1980s-90s. The black deeds of Punjab police also find mention in US diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks.


The culprits of crimes against humanity have escaped the due process of law as a result of impunity policy of the Indian state. Accused cops have enjoyed political patronage and they were awarded with promotions and high ranks. A large number of cases of crimes against humanity went unrecorded and unaccounted. Only a few cases were registered but in those cases too, inordinate delay in legal process has resulted in grave injustice.


In Mohali, Special CBI courts are trying some of the cases related to crimes against humanity committed by Punjab police officials. Most of the incidents date back to late 1980s or early 1990s. These are few cases that were handed over to the CBI for investigation. The CBI had completed its investigation in late 1990s and cases were registered against accused cops. The trial process had remained stayed by the Supreme Court of India for 14 years. The SCI had imposed stay on trial back in 2002 and the apex court of India took 14 years to decide a petty technical issue. The stay was lifted in 2016.

It may be recalled here that “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity” are not defined or punished as crimes under the Indian law and trial are taking place for offences under the Indian Penal Code.

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