1993 Ropar fake encounter: Three cops found guilty, one gets life term for killing two
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in Mohali on Wednesday convicted and awarded life sentence to a retired Punjab Police official, Harjinder Pal Singh, the then station house officer (SHO) of Ropar (Sadar), after holding him guilty of involvement in a fake encounter executed in February 1993.
Two men, Gurmail Singh and Kuldeep Singh, who were in police custody at that time, were killed in the incident.
“You will spend the rest of your life in jail,” said additional district and sessions judge NS Gill, while awarding life sentence to Harjinder, who retired as a DSP, under sections 302 (murder) and 218 (public servant framing incorrect record ) of the Indian Penal Code. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on Harjinder, of which Rs 2 lakh each will be given to families of Gurmail and Kuldeep.
Besides him, the court also convicted the then Ropar DSP Avtar Singh and sub-inspector Bachan Dass under Section 218 (for framing incorrect record) of the IPC and awarded them two-year jail term and Rs 20,000 fine each. The court, however, released them on a year’s probation, which means they will not go to jail but remain under the court’s supervision.
The court acquitted three other cops, then DSP (detective) Ropar Jaspal Singh, constables Harji Ram and Karnail Singh.
In May 1997, the CBI had registered a case against six cops on the directions of Punjab and Haryana high court after the families of Gurmail and Kuldeep sought a CBI investigation into the case. An FIR registered on February 1, 1993, at Ropar (Sadar) police station stated that SHO Harjinder was taking Kuldeep and Gurmail (who were in police custody) to make recovery of arms when they were ambushed by unidentified persons near Bhadal village in Ropar. The police had claimed that in the cross-fire between the police and the attackers, Gurmail and Kuldeep were killed. The police had even cremated Gurmail and Kuldeep, declaring them “unidentified”.
In their defence, the accused cops produced affidavits of victims’ wives Kulbir Kaur and Sukhwinder Kaur, in which they had exonerated the police of any wrongdoing. However, the CBI investigations pointed out that the affidavits were obtained under pressure.
How the CBI called police’s bluff
The CBI investigations pointed out that the arrest of Kuldeep and Gurmail, and their subsequent killing in encounter on February 1, 1993, were stage-managed. The CBI said the police showed recovery of 42 shells of AK-47 and 14 shells of .315 rifle from the encounter site, but only 42 shells were deposited in the malkhana. The CBI said even when two persons were killed, none of the cops sustained injury. The CBI said the police even failed to show the soiled clothes of the deceased.
The CFSL report said that no opinion was offered whether the victims were handcuffed at the time of the attack. Even as Gurmail and Kuldeep were shown as “terrorists” at the time of the arrest, but police failed to show their criminal record.
Justice has been done: Victim’s wife
“Though delayed, justice has finally been done,” said Gurmail’s widow Sukhwinder Kaur, who later married her brother-in-law. “I was 8-month pregnant when I, along with Gurmail’s father, mother and two minor children, were picked up by the police to put pressure on my husband,” she said. Gurmail, she claimed, had surrendered on December 26, 1992.
Kulbir Kaur, the wife of Kuldeep Singh, had claimed that her husband was abducted by a police party led by DSP(D) Jaspal Singh from their house on January 15, 1993, at about 3.30 am.