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Fake Encounters in Punjab: Whistle-blower cop waiting for petition to be heard for last 19 years

July 29, 2013 | By

Amritsar, Punjab (July 29, 2013): A Punjab police constable who had joined the police force in early 1990s witnessed about 15 innocent killings by police officers. He decided to blow a whistle against this unlawful practise; so he quitted the police force and filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1994, informing the cold blood murders by the Punjab police that were witnessed by him.

But the High Court took 14 years to hold a hearing on this petition and an order for CBI inquiry was passed by the court in 2008. But the Punjab government went in appeal against this decision and two judges bench of the High Court installed a stay on the order of inquiry. Even after five years the appeal is not yet years by the High Court.

During last 19 years the whistle blower constable and his family has suffered intense harassment at the hands of the alleged culprit police officers against whom he is a witness. But, the remarkable point is that this person still wishes to depose as a witness as he is the only person from the force whose conscience was shook by those cold blooded murders that were termed by ‘encounters’ by the police force. The name of this persons is Satwant Singh Manak.

During last 19 years Satwant Singh Manak’s case did not find any space in the media headline, but now – when another Punjab cop Surjit Singh SI has come forward with the list of persons whom he killed in fake encounters at the orders of his superior police officers; the media has started taking notice of other cases also. Recently the Times of India (TOI) has published a detailed news-story about Satwant Singh Manak’s case; that is reproduced as follows, for the information of readers/visitors of the Sikh Siyasat News (SSN):

[One-upmanship at village level politics and the then prevalent trend of fake shows of ‘exemplary courage’ among policemen for the sake of promotions led to the killing of several innocent youths in cold blood by ruthless policemen. This was revealed by Satwant Singh Manak, who claims to have witnessed barbaric deaths of as many as 15 youths in stage-managed encounters in Punjab in early 90s.

Satwant Singh Manak is the second Punjab cop to claim killing of innocents by Punjab policemen, presently holding high positions.

Earlier, another Punjab cop from Tarn Taran, Surjit Singh, had confessed to killing as many as 40 youths in fake police encounters.

Satwant Singh has also filed a civil writ petition in Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking a CBI probe into fake encounters.

Talking to TOI on Thursday, Satwant Singh, who was dismissed from police department in 1994, said, “During my posting with CIA staff in Moga in early 90s, I had witnessed as many as 15 youth being brought from different places and killed in cold blood.”

He said he had brought the matter to the knowledge of court in 1994 and had demanded a CBI probe into these killings, but the probe was stayed.

R S Bains, counsel for Manak, said that Punjab and Haryana high court in its decision on April 1, 2008, had pronounced that these false encounter cases called for a probe by an independent agency as, considering the totality of circumstances, it was not possible for state police or any special team to conduct fair investigations.

Bains said the court had directed a CBI inquiry into the false encounters but the division bench had stayed the orders of high court.

Father of two, Manak, who claimed that he was allured with handsome amounts and assurance of reinstatement in the force if he withdrew his charges, said, “Money is not everything. When I said that I will expose false encounters witnessed during my service, I was implicated in false cases and my family members were tortured. It is not about money now. I need justice for myself, my family and those innocents who became prey to overambitious cops, who just wanted promotions at any cost.”

He quoted an incident of killing of Kulwant Singh Kanta,15, resident of Ghumaria village in Faridkot district and Baldev Singh Karamati of Ferozepur, who were killed near Rau Kae canal in Moga district by police.

“Kanta was picked up by police after a person of same village, who was jealous of Kanta, informed police that he (Kanta) had showed way to some unidentified persons in the village. After his arrest, I had handcuffed him, but police killed him and Karamati, in a most brutal manner in my presence and showed them having shot dead in an encounter,” he said, adding that in those days, policemen would pick any youth and kill him for the sake of promotion.

In the case of killing of Satwant Singh Sodhi , a small time businessmen, he said, “Sodhi was politically active in the village, but his rivals lied to police about his connections with terrorists. Police didn’t lose a minute to arrest him and was subjected to severe torture before being shot dead”.

Manak said he still faced threats. “I had gone to court when nobody dared to speak anything against police. But unfortunately, the court’s orders were stayed. I am still hopeful of a CBI inquiry into the fake killings, so I have come to the press,” he said.

Vice chairman of Punjab Human Rights Commission, Kirpal Singh Randhawa, said, “We have sympathy for Manak and appreciate his courage. As he had shown his courage by going to court, we demand government to reopen the cases and inquire into his allegations”.

Randhawa expressed apprehension that Surjit Singh could withdraw his claims under police pressure. “I am trying to contact him for the past two days, but he is neither meeting me nor answering my calls. If Surjit backtracks from his statement, PHRO will file a case against him. It is a serious affair and we will not let him run away, mocking the sentiments of victims.” – Times of India (TOI) ‘Cops could pick up, kill any youth, for promotion‘ | Jul 19, 2013 | 01.51AM IST | TNN ( Yudhvir Rana )]

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