Jail for Punjab cops who tattooed ‘jeb katri’ on 4 women’s foreheads

Hindustan Times | By, Patiala
Oct 08, 2016 09:40 PM IST

The then SP, SHO get three-year jail, ASI gets a year, 23 years after four women went through the horror

Pronouncing the judgment in the 23-year-old ‘jeb katri’ tattooing case, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court has convicted three cops. The case involved tattooing of ‘jeb katri’ word on the foreheads of four women in 1993 that had brought criticism to the Punjab Police from world over.

File photo of three of the four women with the words ‘jeb katri’ (Punjabi for pickpocket) tattooed on their foreheads in 1993.(Photo: TS Bedi)
File photo of three of the four women with the words ‘jeb katri’ (Punjabi for pickpocket) tattooed on their foreheads in 1993.(Photo: TS Bedi)

Terming the act of the accused as inhuman, special CBI judge Baljinder Singh, who wrapped up the trial in a year, on Friday awarded three-year rigorous imprisonment (RI) to the then superintendent of police Sukhdev Singh Chinna and sub-inspector Narinder Singh Malli, the then SHO of Rambagh police station, and a year’s RI to ASI Kanwaljit Singh.

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The victim women were: Gurdev Kaur, Parmeshri Devi, Mohinder Kaur and Jaswinder Kaur.

The Punjab Police had faced widespread criticism as the incident hit the headlines across the world in 1994 after cops in Amritsar tattooed ‘jeb katri’ on the foreheads of four habitual offender women.

The National Human Rights Commission took cognisance of a press report dated January 12, 1994 and lodged proceedings under Section 12 (b) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

The victims had also filed a writ petition in the high court in 1994, praying for directions to the respondents, the government of Punjab, Amritsar superintendent of police, and others, to arrange for plastic surgery for removal of the tattoo, giving compensation for the inhuman act and humiliation and punishing the guilty cops.

On January 17, 1994, the NHRC not only approached the high court to become a party, but also addressed a letter to the Punjab chief secretary, seeking a report on the matter. The NHRC had also submitted an affidavit in the court, demanding a CBI probe.

After hearing counsel of NHRC and petitioners, the high court not only handed over the probe to the CBI, but also directed Punjab government to arrange plastic surgery of the victims and pay a compensation of `50,000 to each victim, as recommended by NHRC.

The case, reached to the Supreme Court, which upheld the decision of high court. The CBI filed the challan in 2015 under Sections 326 (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 342 (wrongful confinement), 346 (wrongful confinement in secret)and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.

How it happened

As per the petition, the victims alleged that they had gone to visit Golden Temple on December 8, 1993. After paying obeisance when they reached at bus stand, ASI Kanwaljit Singh stopped them and kept them custody from December 8 to 15. Later, the ASI on the directions of the SP and SHO, got tattooed ‘jeb katri’ on their foreheads. The case came to fore when during a hearing of a pick-pocketing case, the police produced them in the court, foreheads covered with ‘dupatta’. One of the women showed to the court the tottoo on her forehead. Though the court didn’t make any observation, the media highlighted the story. Police had alleged that women’s neighbours had tattooed ‘jeb katri on their foreheads to aware the public about their misdeeds.

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    A special correspondent, Vishal Rambani is the bureau chief at Patiala. He covers politics, crime, power sector, environment and socio-economic issues, with several investigative stories to his credit.

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