Eight cops get life term in 1992 fake encounter case
The court of additional sessions judge on Tuesday awarded life imprisonment to eight policemen in connection with a fake encounter of a youth in Bathinda in 1992. Additional sessions judge MPS Pahwa sentenced the accused, including Baljinder Kumar, ASI Gurbachan Singh, head constables Mall Singh, Trilok Singh Harinder Singh and Kamaljeet Singh, home guard personnel Jarnail Singh and Jagasbeer Singh for life.punjab Updated: Jan 14, 2014 20:00 IST
The court of additional sessions judge on Tuesday awarded life imprisonment to eight policemen in connection with a fake encounter of a youth in Bathinda in 1992.
Additional sessions judge MPS Pahwa sentenced the accused, including Baljinder Kumar, ASI Gurbachan Singh, head constables Mall Singh, Trilok Singh Harinder Singh and Kamaljeet Singh, home guard personnel Jarnail Singh and Jagasbeer Singh for life.
A total of 11 policemen were booked in the case. Two of the accused, including ASI Lakhbir Singh and driver Pal Singh, died during the course of the trial, whereas main accused DSP Gurjit Singh, the then SHO and in-charge of Sadar police station, has been declared a proclaimed offender (PO) after being awarded life imprisonment in another case in Barnala district.
The victim, Paramjit Singh (24), a resident of Bibiwala here was picked up by an 11-member team from Sadar police station on July 17, 1992, from a flour mill near Bibiwala Chowk here for his alleged links with terrorists. Later, the police declared that he escaped from their custody while they were taking him to Jhumba village to recover arms over there. "The police party was attacked by armed terrorists in the village and the accused managed to escape," the police had claimed.
Seven-year struggle to get a case registered
Even as the family of the victim youth got justice after a protracted legal battle that stretched over 21 years, they have to struggle a lot as the police tried to protect the accused cops throughout the trial. Not only the police, the accused themselves had also approached the victim's family to reach a compromise by offering them allurements.
Firstly, getting a case registered against the policemen was a challenge for the family. The victim's father, Gurdit Singh, kept visiting the offices of higher police officials for two years after the incident demanding justice for his son, but to no avail.
It was only on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court in 1994 that things started moving. On the HC's directions, the then district and sessions judge KS Grewal in his inquiry found the police statements conflicting.
On the basis of the inquiry report, the HC had asked the state government to provide compensation of `50,000 to three members of the youth's family and directed the Punjab Police to take action against cops according to law.
Though the compensation was provided no action was initiated against the cops. The father then approached the Supreme Court, following which the court directed the police to register a case under Sections 302, 364 and 34 of the IPC against all the 11 accused.
Attempts to shield accused
Even as a case was registered against the accused on March 23, 1999, on the apex court's directions, the police made all attempts to save the accused. After no accused was arrested even as a case was registered against them, the victim's father again approached the Supreme Court. The apex court directed the DIG, Faridkot range, to file a report into the matter. The DIG further asked the SP (detective), Faridkot, to conduct an inquiry into the incident.
In the inquiry, which was apparently aimed at protecting the accused cops, the police recorded statements of three people namely Jagmail Singh, a resident of Jodhpur village, Ghuddar Singh, a resident of Behraj village, and Charan Singh, manager of a gurdwara outside Punjab. On the basis of statements given by the three, police diluted the charges against accused and filed a challan under the new sections in the court. The accused were booked under Sections 365, 342, 223, 220, 193 and 120-B instead of Sections 302, 364 and 34 of the IPC, as directed by the Supreme Court.
However, the father of the victim did not give up and approached the three people to know the truth. All three declined to have given such statements to police and filed affidavits in this regard. Based on these affidavits, the additional sessions judge asked police to file a challan under the sections as per the directions of the Supreme Court. A challan in this case was filed on February 15, 2001.
The family's struggle didn't end here as the main accused, Gurjit Singh, who was out on parole after he had been sentenced to life in another case, jumped the parole and went absconding, while two other accused died. The case could resume only after Gurjit Singh was declared PO by the court.
Family reached for 'compromise'
After the ailing father of the victim died on May 27, 2013, the accused tried to allure the family. Sarabjit Singh, younger brother of the victim, said the accused tried to entice them and one such attempt was made even a-month-and-a-half ago. "The accused kept on sending a senior police cop, who is known to the family, to our house with offers of compromise but we refused to do so," Sarabjit said, while expressing satisfaction over the decision.