March 12, 2013 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Patiala, Punjab (March 12, 2103): Whereas, a CBI court in Patiala sentenced a SSP rank police officer, besides five others for 10 years jail in a 1993 abduction case on March 11, 2013; there are no whereabouts of the Sikh person who was abducted by the accused twenty years ago.
According to an Express News Service (ENS) news Preetpal Singh Virk, SSP (Rural) Amritsar along with the other cops, had picked up Tejinder Singh, his father Budh Singh and their servant Joga Singh from their Sunam resident in May 1993. While Joga Singh was released the next day, Tejinder’s father was kept allegedly kept in illegal police custody till May 28. Tejinder Singh was allegedly tortured before being released on June 6. After this, his family sent him to Calcutta where they ran a dairy business.
“Virk and the other accused cops the allegedly picked up Tejinder from Calcutta and brutally tortured him to the extent that many of his bones were dislocated” ENS reports reads further.
The complainant in the case, Budh Singh, moved Punjab and Haryana High Court alleging that whereabouts of Tejinder Singh were not known after police allegedly picked him up and kept him in wrongful confinement and tortured him.
It is notable that on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, then district and sessions judge (Vigilance) R C Kathuria conducted a probe into the matter.
Judge Kathuria submitted his report in this matter on January 30, 1995. The reports stated that Tejinder Singh had been “either killed or was in illegal custody of police”.
The case was shifted to CBI on August 23, 1995. Despite the fact that the probe report had expressed apprehensions regarding the murder of Tejinder Singh the CBI filed a chargesheet against the six cops in April 2000 under sections 364, 365, 342 and 120-B of the IPC relating to illegal confinement, abduction and conspiracy and not for murder.
According to ENS “[t]ill date, nothing conclusive has emerged about Tejinder Singh’s whereabouts”.
“The complainant in the case, his father died in January this year” it reads further.
Tejinder Singh’s brother Jagroop Singh reportedly stated: “My 85-year-old father died waiting for his son to return. He saw him being tortured brutally by police and after that there was no information about his whereabouts”.
“We still want to know what happened to my brother, about his whereabouts. We still wait for him,” Jagroop Singh reportedly said, while reacting on the court verdict.
Jagroop Singh said it had been a long battle where pressure was put on family from many quarters to take back the case.
“Jagroop rued that while the accused cops had a tainted past, the state government continued to promote them. It may be noted that Virk was to retire in December 2012, but was given a year’s extension by the state” reads ENS news report.
The facts of the case have again highlighted the issue of mass-level police atrocities and human rights abuses that were committed by Punjab police and Indian security forces in Punjab during 1980s-90s.
It is notable that during 1980s-90s secret confinements, custodial torture, fake encounters and enforced disappearances were a common policing practise in Punjab.
Many Sikhs, including women, were subjected to enforced disappearances by Punjab police or other Indian security forces.
Human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra had traced documentary evidence regarding secret cremations of dead bodies of Sikhs who were extra-judicially killed by Punjab police.
Jaswant Singh Khalra was able to secure the records of three cremations grounds – Tarn Taran, Patti and Durgiana Mandir cremation grounds in Amritsar. This record was strong a evidence against the Punjab police that was indulged enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and secret cremations.
On September 6, 1995 Jaswant Singh Khalra was also subjected to enforced disappearance and soon after that the record of all cremation grounds across the state was seized, and made inaccessible, by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation).
Perpetrators of these crimes and systematic human rights abuses were rewarded with promotions and high ranks in Punjab police by the State.
Cops who practised these acts (amounting to “Crimes against humanity” under International law) are enjoying state patronage and impunity.
There were only few instances where the guilty were charged or tried and convictions were there in very rare cases.
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