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PUCL, 1 October 2006

Punjab Human Rights Committee’s report on cold blooded murder of a Muslim youth

Released on: 30 Sept., 2006 | [ Click here for a press release ]

Punjab Human Rights Committee’s Report on Cold Blooded Murder of a Muslim Youth on 20-21st night.

Even after the end of terrorism in Punjab, functioning of some senior officers of Punjab police still remains the same without any accountability and responsibility.

On the information of murder of a youth in Giana village about 40km from Bhatinda on the night between 20-21.9.06 by the Special Task Force police men (STF), The Punjab Human Rights Committee (PHRC) formed a three member panel to investigate this cold blooded murder.

The panel comprised of Punjab Human Rights Committee General Secretary Ved Parkash Gupta, Mr. Balwinder. S. Bhullar social worker and Mr. Sukhjit Singh (Neena).

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 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. He told the panel that the villagers heard indiscriminate firing which started between Kanakwal and Giana.

PHRC panel’s findings are as under:
According to the findings of the PHRC panel four persons including the driver of the truck were coming from Bhagu village in Haryana. They were bringing a bull in the truck. At Kanakwal village the personal of the Special Task Force (STF) signaled them to stop. According to the facts collected by the panel, this 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. A few instances when this force directly interfered in the working of the district police have come to the notice of the panel.

The driver of the truck panicked and did not stop and tried to flee as they had stolen a bull from somewhere in Haryana. The STF men chased them in their own vehicle toward village Giana. The STF started unprovoked indiscriminate firing on the truck. This indiscriminate firing was heard by the villagers and the fact substantiated by a panchayat member Raj Singh. The truck driver did not stop even then. The STF police tried to overtake the truck but their vehicle grazed with the truck, which infuriated the policemen. Then they fired at the tyre of the truck and punctured it. Even after the puncture of the tyre the truck covered some distance from village Giana. Ultimately the truck got stuck in the Kutcha road and stopped. The STF men pounced upon the truck one of the constables gave a lathi blow on the glass panel of the driver’s seat and shattered it. Then they pulled out the driver and tied his hands behind his back. They gave him a sound beating.

When the STF men inspected the truck they found the blood covered dead body of one of the four occupants of the truck. They panicked and tried to put the blame of the murder of the youth upon them in vain. After some deliberations the STF men released the tied driver and left the place in their vehicle leaving the truck with the dead body of the youth there.

A panchayat member of village Giana S. Raj Singh dared to find out the cause of so much firing in the early hours that night. In the morning he saw the truck and found the blood covered body of the youth. 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.

Jagsir Singh one of the four occupants of the truck who was released by the STF men informed the relatives of Namim Khan at Muzaffarpur in Utter Pradesh on phone. Namim Khan was a Muslim youth in his twenties who was shot dead by STF firing. About one dozen near and dear ones of the youth Namim Khan reached Bhatinda on 22nd evening along with Jagsir Singh who escaped death at the hands of STF men. Jagsir Singh narrated the whole story to the press men as well as to the PHRC panel in detail. He also told that the STF men have snatched his mobile set no. 9814876110 also.

The panel also met the SHO Rama police station, also inspected the bullet ridden body of the truck number GLIG 4100 there. The right side of the rear of the truck was still covered with blood. The blood of the victim trickled down covering even the number plate of the truck. The panel also talked to Mr. Gurmit Singh DSP Talwandi Saboo in whose area the village Giana falls.

The police got the postmortem of the dead body and hurriedly cremated it without taking the trouble of identifying the dead person.

The panel interviewed SHO Rama Mandi and DSP Talwandi Saboo, the panel found both these officers hesitant to tell the whole truth behind the firing and the resultant death of a youth on the night of 20-21.9.06. Some police constables on condition of anonymity informed the panel that firing and the murder of the youth is the work of STF. The panel wanted to know some more in detail about the STF from here and there. Some other persons connected with the police department were also interviewed. The facts collected from all these persons about STF working by the team have already been mentioned.

The local police of Rama Mandi and Talwandi Saboo was not informed in advance by the STF about their movements in the area and setting up check post there. The panel noted that the STF men deliberately did not inform the local police there about the firing and the death of a youth in the early hours of 20-21 September 06. They must have thought that the case would be hushed up as nobody knew any thing at that time.

Mr. Varinder Kumar SSP Bhatinda ordered immediate probe into the incident. From the quick result of the investigation ending in the arrest of one Surjit Singh ASI Ferozepur and Lakhvir Singh head constable Bhatinda, it appears that Bhatinda police must be knowing about the activities of the so called STF men in the area. Surjit Singh ASI is the leader of STF and Lakhvir Singh as its trusted member. Both have been arrested under section 302 IPC.

It is to be noted here that Bhatinda is a developing area and is a good place for minting money. The IGP and DIG both have shifted their offices from their head quarters at Ferozepur and Faridkot respectively to Bhatinda city.

Panel has many questions to be asked and probed. Was working of STF in the knowledge of district authorities? Why other STF men not identified and arrested? What was the hurry to cremate the body of the youth without making efforts to find out his identity?

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 Haryana 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 Members of the panel: Mr. Ved Parkash Gupta, General Secretary, Punjab Human Rights Committee. . Mr. Balwinder Singh Bhullar, Social Worker. Mr. Sukhjit Singh (Neena), Farmer.

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