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PUCL,1 October 2006

Punjab Human Rights Committee’s panel holds policemen guilty of murder of a Muslim youth

Press Note.

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The three member panel constituted by Pun jab Human Rights Committee has held Special Task Force (STF) police men guilty of cold blooded murder of a Muslim youth Namim Khan in village Giana near Rama Mandi in District Bhatinda on 20-21 September night.

The panel comprised of Punjab Human Rights Committee General Secretary Ved Parkash Gupta, Mr. Balwinder. S. Bhullar social worker and Mr. Sukhjit Singh (Neena) a farmer. The panel visited villages Giana, Kanakwal and townships Rama Mandi and Talwandi Saboo in Bhatinda district and interviewed and interacted with common people and the police officers SHO Rama Mandi and DSP Talwandi Saboo in this connection. The Panel heard the eye witness account of Jagsir Singh one of the occupants of the truck who was fortunate enough to escape death at the hands of STF men. The Panel also met the first man who saw the blood covered body of the youth lying in a truck and had reported to the police at Rama Mandi.

According to the findings of the PHRC Panel a truck no DLIG 4100 with four persons including the driver and a bull was coming from Harayana side to Kankwal in Punjab. At Kanakwal village a naka was set up by the STF. STF signaled the truck to stop. They did not stop the truck and tried to flee. Infuriated at this, the STF men started chasing the truck in their own vehicle. The STF started unprovoked indiscriminate firing on the truck. The truck driver did not stop even then. Then they fired at the tyre of the truck and punctured it and the truck stopped out side village Giana.

A panchayat member of village Giana S. Raj Singh was the first man to see the truck with the dead body of the youth and a bull in it. The rear side of the truck was badly covered with blood. He immediately informed the Rama Mandi police as well as DSP Talwandi Saboo about the incident. The Rama Police took the truck as well as the dead body of the youth in its custody.

The DSP Talwandi Saboo S. Gurmeet Singh informed the Panel that the area police swung into action at the orders of SSP Mr. Varinder Kumar with the strict instructions not to spare any guilty man whatsoever he might be. Consequently S. Surjit Singh ASI Ferozepur leader of STF and S. Lakhvir Singh Head Constable Bhatinda were arrested under section 303 IPC for murder of Namim Khan.

When the Panel tried to know more about the STF, the police officers were hesitant to open their mouths. Some police constables on condition of anonymity informed the panel that STF is nothing but a group of about one dozen loyal and trusted policemen formed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ferozepur range. This STF is personally controlled and run by the IGP. The STF is not answerable to any one but the IGP only. This force has been working in all the six districts of Ferozepur range independently without any connection, cooperation or coordination with the Senior Superintends of Police (SSPs) of these districts. The working of this STF is very dubious. Several times STF was found interfering in the normal working of the district police force.

The Punjab Human Rights Committee after thorough investigation, interaction with villagers, eye witness account of Jagsir Singh and circumstantial evidences has concluded that STF men were responsible of murder of youth Namim Khan. PHRC panel has demanded a thorough investigation into the formation, control and activities of this STF and the arrest of other members who were present at the time of firing resulting in death of a youth near Giana.

The PHRC panel has apprehensions that the powerful and mighty officers may be successful in hushing up the case or pressurize the victims for a compromise and retract their statements given the press and the Panel.

Copies of this report are being sent to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Chief Justice Supreme Court of India, Chief Justice Punjab and Harayana High Court, Chairman National Human Rights Commission, CBI, CVC, Chairman Punjab State Human Rights Commission, Chief Minister of Punjab and Director General Police Punjab for thorough investigation to punish the guilty.

Report released by: Ved Parkash Gupta. Punjab Human Rights Committee, 5042, Afim Wali Gali, Bhatinda. Punjab. Ph. 0164-2253903. E-Mail - vitull@sancharnet.in

People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014