After a decade of dragging its feet, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has finally begun probing the alleged fake encounters and secret cremations of 814 people in Punjab during the height of militancy in the state.
Justice (retd) KS Bhalla, the NHRC’s designated commissioner, will be camping here on Friday and Saturday to record complaints about abduction, encounter deaths engineered by the security personnel and secret cremations.
The Bhalla commission is expected to base its investigation on the evidence gathered by Jaswant Singh Khalra.
The activist had been abducted and ‘eliminated’ while trying to uncover the secret cremations. Khalra had gathered evidence of as many as 2,097 illegal cremations that took place at two Amritsar and one Tarn Taran crematoriums. Every one of those cremated were shown to have been killed in encounters with the police.
After Khalra’s death, his wife and chief of the Khalra Mission Organisation (KMO) Paramjit Kaur and other activists moved the NHRC, which referred the case to CBI. However, the premier investigation agency could add precious little to Khalra’s findings even after a decade-long investigation.
Paramjit told HT that the families of the victims were in touch with the KMO and would depose before the inquiry commission if needed. Among the others who will submit their accounts are rights activists Ram Narayan and Navkiran Singh.
Paramjit added that of the 2,097 cases unearthed by Khalra, compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh each have been awarded in 194 cases each while the NHRC recommended a compensation of Rs 1.75 lakh each to 1,051 other families. The remaining 814 cases are still pending for want of clarity in postal addresses, timings of registering FIRs and sundry hitches.