May 9, 2016 | By Parmjeet Singh
Chandigarh: With a CBI special court awarding imprisonment for life to 47 Uttar Pradesh cops found guilty of a 1991 fake encounter in Pilibhit in which 11 Sikh pilgrims were killed by cops, the focus is back on wide-spread and systematic human rights abuses committed by Indian security forces against the civilian Sikh population. Pilibhit fake encounter case verdict has brought attention to another equally horrifying incident of human rights abuses inside Pilibhit district jail in 1994. But this incident is largely unknown and forgotten.
On the intervening night of November 8 and 9, 1994 twenty-eight Sikhs detained under TADA were brutally beaten up by jail staff led by the then jail superintendent Vidhyachal Singh Yadav. Six persons were brought dead to the Pilibhit District Hospital and one critically injured Vichitra Singh was referred to King George Medical College in Locknow where he died 12 days later. The remaining 21 persons, who were injured in this incident and were admitted to the hospital with serious injuries were sent back to the prison after they recovered.
A case was registered against the jail staff under murder charges but it was withdrawn by the UP government in 2007.
According the The Tribune (TT) (May 9, 2016): The jail authorities had then claimed that the TADA detainees had been injured and some of them died in a clash with the jail staff, “who had aborted their bid to escape from jail”.
However, the then Pilibhit bureau chief of Hindi daily Amar Ujala, Vishwamitra Tandon, recalls that the bodies and the condition of the injured prisoners suggested no such clash. “It was clearly a one-sided affair where the jail staff had suffered superficial injuries while the prisoners had been tied and beaten to death or incapacitated. The first edition of my newspaper had given a headline which spoke of TADA prisoners dying in a clash with the jail staff. I persuaded my office to change the headline, calling it outright custodial killing,” remembers Tandon.
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