The police have arrested one of the two former Punjab Police personnel who were convicted of kidnapping seven members of a family of Bagga village in 1991, during terrorism days in Punjab.
Balwinder Singh, a dismissed police constable, was arrested from his house in Maqboolpura area of the city on Friday. His brother, Baldev Singh, a DSP-rank officer, who was later dismissed from the police, continues to elude the police.
The two were sentenced to 35-year imprisonment each by the Supreme Court on September 20 this year on charges of kidnapping seven members of the family of Sadhu Singh. They were awarded five years each for the abduction of each member.
The apex court had converted their life imprisonment to 35 years on the grounds that the investigating agency, the CBI, could not prove that all the seven members had been killed, though it was believed that they had been eliminated as they were not traced.
The two were awarded life imprisonment by the Amritsar sessions court in 1998 on the grounds that the seven members had been eliminated by their kidnappers as they could not be traced.
Subsequently, the verdict was upheld by the Punjab and Haryana high court. The two brothers went in appeal to the apex court. The sessions court had acquitted the gunmen of Baldev Singh for want of sufficient evidence.
Sent to jail
After his arrest, Balwinder Singh was produced in the court of the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) and sent to the Amritsar central jail, where he had remained with his brother following his arrest by the CBI in 1997 and even after his conviction by the sessions court.
The two brothers had got bail from the Supreme Court, after they appealed against their life imprisonment. Since then they had been out on bail.
However, even after the Supreme Court verdict came in September, the two did not surrender. With the counsel of the relatives of the "missing" family putting pressure, the cops were left with no option but to arrest at least one of the two brothers. They are now on the lookout for the other.
Kidnapping in 1991
On September 29. 1991, Baldev Singh, then DSP of Dera Baba Nanak, along with 20 people, many of them in police uniform, came to the farmhouse of Sadhu Singh at Bagga village.
They took away Sadhu Singh, his sons Gurdip Singh and Devinder Singh besides his grandsons Sharanjit Singh, Sukhpal Singh, Amanjot Singh and Hardev Singh.
The immediate cause of provocation for their "kidnapping" was the "mysterious disappearance" of another brother of Baldev Singh. He suspected Sadhu Singh's family to be behind it as the DSP's family did not get along with the victims' family. The DSP's family hails from Ram Diwali, a village adjoining Bagga.
After the abduction, the family of Sadhu Singh tried desperately to locate them, but failed. They approached the high court and a CBI inquiry was ordered which led to things tumbling out of the cupboard. The brutal misuse of power by a police officer came to the fore as he went about settling personal scores under the garb of fighting terrorism.