Cat is out of the bag! How informers who turned cops in Punjab wield clout
The term ‘cat’ is used for those who were originally militants or their sympathisers, but later became informers and helped the police hunt down militants.punjab Updated: Jun 17, 2017 20:46 IST
The arrest of Punjab Police ‘drug inspector’ Inderjit Singh has once again brought to the fore the clout that ‘cat’-turned-cops have been enjoying in the department.
The term ‘cat’ is used for those who were originally militants or their sympathisers, but later became informers and helped the police hunt down militants.
Sources in the department said even Inderjit was a ‘cat’ during the militancy era in Punjab and was inducted as a special police officer (SPO) in 1991 as an award for his assistance in eliminating dreaded terrorists. Later, he was inducted as a constable.
Inderjit was arrested on Monday after the special task force (STF) recovered 4-kg heroin, an AK-47 and other arms and ammunition besides Rs 16 lakh from his official quarters in Phagwara. He has confessed to having links with drug suppliers in Amritsar region.
Kapurthala senior superintendent of police (SSP) Sandeep Sharma, who dismissed Inderjit from service on Friday, said the accused cop’s present rank was that of a head constable.
“Inderjit became a head constable in 2000 and was then given an ad-hoc promotion as inspector. I am not sure how he got the rank of inspector,” said the SSP.
Notably, it’s a common practice in Punjab Police to give ad-hoc promotions to cops, with the rider that they would withdraw salary of their original rank.
‘Rarest of rare promotions’
In Inderjit’s case, sources told HT, he got the rank of inspector, which is a “rarest of rare” ad-hoc promotions for a head constable, who is usually promoted to the rank of an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) and later SI.
It was owing to his clout as a ‘cat’ and proximity with senior police officials from the days of militancy that in 1995, Inderjit, a constable, managed to get the rank of an ASI on temporary basis and was even appointed the station house officer (SHO) at Goraya in Jalandhar district.
Since then, he has served only on key postings as an SHO or in the crime investigation agency (CIA) of the police.
However, the dismissed cop has told the STF in remand that he had served in the Indian Army for five years before joining the police.
History of treading wrong side of law
In Punjab Police, there is a long list of ‘cats’ who when adjusted in ‘khakhi’ made full use of their powers illegally.
It was in 1988 when a ‘cat’-turned-ASI, Daljit Singh, killed his seniors — SSP Sital Dass and SP (detective) Baldev Singh — in their office. Both were conducting a probe against Daljit, who was instrumental in killing key terrorists.
Gurmeet Singh Pinky, an inspector in Punjab Police, killed a Ludhiana man in 2001 and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2006. He too had been a ‘cat’.
There are many who are still in the force and often remain in the news for one or the other wrong reason, said a senior cop.
“Cat-turned-cops are ruthless when it comes to corruption or other immoral activities. Their assets are generally more than that of any director general of police (DGP)-rank officer,” said a retired ADGP-rank officer, on the condition of anonymity.