What's startling is that though the NHRC investigation pertained to 'illegal' killings and 'unidentified' bodies, the kin of a few listed terrorists, too, received compensation, even though the bodies were identified after genuine encounters. Ironically, some compensation cases of terrorists' families were rejected even though innocent members were picked up by the police.
Gurbachan Singh Manochahal
Among those who got compensation is the family of Bhindranwala Tiger Force (BTF) chief Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, a dreaded militant who operated in Tarn Taran district.
Manochahal was killed in a gunbattle on February 28, 1993, on the outskirts of Rataul village. His body was identified by top police officials, including then inspector general of police (border range) DR Bhatti, then Tarn Taran senior superintendent of police (SSP) Ajit Singh Sandhu, then superintendent of police (operations) Khubi Ram and then Kapurthala SSP Narinderpal Singh, who helped in planning the operation against Manochahal. This correspondent, who reached the spot as well, also saw Manochahal's bullet-riddled body in a field at a farmhouse.
Talking to HT at Naushera Pannuan village, Narinder Singh and Tirlochan Singh, Manochahal's brothers, said they attended his cremation at Tarn Taran the next day and the ashes were immersed in the Beas at Goindwal Sahib. They said cops were present at the cremation. The two also confirmed that their brother's family had received Rs 1.75-lakh compensation.
"We came to know that cases of those killed during terrorism were being investigated and
compensation would be awarded to genuine cases. So, we put forward our brother's case before the committee that came to Tarn Taran and got the money four years ago," the brothers said.
However, the duo got nothing in the case about the 'disappearance' of their father, Atma Singh, mother Gurmej Kaur and brother Nirvair Singh, who they claimed were picked up by cops and allegedly killed in an 'encounter' in September 1992 at Thati Khara village. "We want justice, not compensation. The government should take action against the culprits," Tirlochan said.
Sukhwinder Singh Sangha
Another feared terrorist whose family was awarded Rs 1.75 lakh was Sukhwinder Singh Sangha, who formed his own BTF group after parting ways with Manochahal Sangha was killed in a police encounter in November 1990 at Bhullar village. "I saw my brother's body and attended his cremation at Tarn Taran," confirmed Dilbagh Singh, the terrorist's brother.
However, Dilbagh is upset that the government has not been able to trace his brothers Balwinder and Khushdeep, who both 'disappeared' in Ludhiana. "I want to know the truth about my brothers. I want no compensation," he said.
Paramjit Singh Pamma
Terrorist Paramjit Singh Pamma of Sultanwind village was trapped by a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) patrol party in the village and killed in an exchange of fire in December 1990. Confirmed this to HT, Pamma's brother Sarabjit Singh admitted that the family had received compensation.
Sarabjit, his mother Lakhwinder Kaur and other relatives were taken to Durgiana Mandir the next day, where they were allowed to cremate the body in the presence of the police.
However, the family has not got a penny in the case of Sakatar Singh, Sarabjit's uncle (chacha). As per Sarabjit's claim, his uncle was 'picked up' by cops and killed in a fake encounter near Varpal in 1988.
"The Bhalla committee was not convinced with our arguments. However, the money is not important, we only want the cops responsible for our uncle's killing brought to book," said Sarabjit.
Davinder Singh, alias Commando, was a 'listed' Babbar Khalsa activist of Sultanwind. As per his brother Shamsher Singh's claims, Davinder was 'picked up' by cops and killed in an 'encounter' near Bhorse village in 1993.
Shamsher attended his brother's cremation in the presence of the police at Durgiana Mandir. He, too, wants the cops responsible for murdering his brother booked.