The special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) here on Monday sentenced Amritsar (rural) senior superintendent of police (SSP) Preetpal Singh Virk to 10-year rigorous imprisonment after finding him, along with other cops, guilty of illegal confinement and "kidnapping in order to murder" of a Punjab-level footballer in 1993.
The court of special judge Hemant Gupta held Punjab Police Service (PPS) officer Virk and three other cops Avtar Singh (then head constable, police lines, Sangrur; now sub-inspector, Mehlan Chowk police station), Balbir Singh (then constable, Sangrur police lines; now head constable, Badrukhan police station, Sangrur) and Shamsher Singh (then inspector at Bhawanigarh; retired as DSP) guilty under sections 120 (B), 342, 343, 346 and 364 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for hatching a criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement and abduction in order to murder.
SAS Nagar deputy superintendent of police (DSP, City-II) Rajinder Singh Sohal (then SHO Malerkotla) and Ganda Singh (retired constable) were sentenced to three years' imprisonment under sections 34, 342, 343, 346 and 365 of the IPC for assisting Virk and others in the crime.
All guilty cops (including the retired ones) have been arrested and sent to the Central Jail, Patiala.
On the intervening night of May 12-13, 1993, a team led by Virk, who was then SP (detective), Sangrur, had picked up Tejinder Singh Billu (29) and his father Budh Singh from their house in Ram Nagar, Sunam (Sangrur district), for suspected terrorist links.
As per senior public prosecutor, CBI, Sanjay Kumar, the cops subjected the father-son duo to third-degree torture in illegal confinement and then set them free four days later.
Tejinder's family sent him to Kolkata, where they were involved in the catering business. However, a police party brought him back on June 6, 1993, and kept him for interrogation in the crime investigation agency (CIA) police station at Bahadursingh Wala, Sangrur, for a few days.
Tejinder later went missing, even as the police kept denying interrogating him and bringing him from Kolkata.
The CBI judge observed that the police did not even register an FIR despite Budh Singh's meetings with senior police officials of the state, seeking their intervention.
On July 7, 1994, Budh Singh filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana high court, seeking the registration of a case against police personnel. The court formed a one-man committee comprising RC Kathuria, then district and sessions judge, Vigilance Bureau, Haryana, to investigate the matter.
The committee submitted its report on January 30, 1995, observing that, "Either he (Tejinder) has been killed or he is in illegal custody of police."
Doubting the cops' claims, the high court handed over the case to the CBI on July 21, 1995. The investigating agency registered an FIR against Virk and others at the CBI police station in New Delhi on August 23, 1995.
After an investigation lasting more than a decade, charges were framed against the cops on April 4, 2006.