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Killing of 8 factory workers in Abohar firing: HC converts four cops’ murder conviction into culpable homicide

  Updated: Sep 16, 2019 21:58 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

The Punjab and Haryana high court has converted murder conviction of four police personnel into culpable homicide case in the killing of eight protesting factory workers in Abohar in October 1991.

The high court bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and HS Sidhu, however, directed state to compensate the families,    observing that the state is vicariously liable for the negligent acts of its employees. “The police by resorting to firing on unarmed peaceful gathering of workers has also violated their human rights. The authorities are accountable for their failure to protect right to life,” the bench said. 

The four cops convicted for murder Hardam Singh, Piara Singh, Narinder Pal Singh and Harcharan Singh have now been convicted of 304-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder). Their quantum of sentence would be pronounced later. They may get up to 10 years of jail.

Earlier, all of them were awarded life sentence by the trial court in December 2013, while at least 0 other cops were acquitted. Three cops died during the trial and one is absconding. Narinder Pal Singh, convicted of murder, also died in 2017.

The incident took place on October 25, 1991, at Abohar when workers of Bhawani Cotton Mill had gone on strike. The mill management called in police and resorted to firing. Six persons were killed at the spot and two persons succumbed to injuries and 18 persons were injured.  Police had used 12-bore guns, rifles, pistols and revolvers in the firing.  Police dillydallied in investigation and an FIR was registered against the police in 1997 after high court’s intervention.

“It is the duty of the police to ensure that their acts do not harm others by acting negligently. The appellants may not have the intention to cause death of the labourers, but they knew that firing at the unarmed mob would result in deaths,” the court said, while converting murder conviction into a culpable homicide case. “The police force also remained under stress. The police personnel had reached the spot in the morning and they were there till the firing started at 3.28 pm,” it added.

The state has been directed to pay compensation in the range of ₹2 lakh to ₹3.36 lakh to the families of the deceased. The injured 18 workmen will be paid ₹1.08 lakh each. The compensation will be paid with 9 per cent interest from the date of incident.

First Published: Sep 16, 2019 21:58 IST

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