PUCL Bulletin, March 2004

Punjab Human Rights Committee panel report

Torture of Gurpreet Singh by Talwandi Sabo police

Politicians, Police and the Criminals nexus stood naked in Talwandi Sabo when a young man Gurpreet Singh of village Mohallan was subjected to third degree brutal torture and electric shocks by Mr. Devinder Attri, SHO Talwandi Sabo police station on 1.1.04 simply to please his political bosses.
On receiving the information about the torture of a young man by the police in Talwandi Sabo on 1.1.04, the General Secretary PHRC, along with a group of press men, visited the civil hospital Bhatinda where the victim was admitted on 6.1.04. Finding the prima facie case of torture, the PHRC formed a panel of three members namely Mr. Surinder Sharma, senior advocate Bhatinda, Mr. Ved Parkash Gupta and Dr. Vitull Gupta, MD to conduct a thorough investigation in to the case and submit its report within a week.

The Panel met a cross section of people in Talwandi Sabo, interviewed Devinder Attri, SHO Talwandi Sabo Police Station, A police Witness, victim Gurpreet Singh in central jail Bhatinda, Jail officials, Government Doctors who conducted medical examination of the victim and Kapil Dev, SSP Bhatinda.

The panel has submitted the following report
On 1.1.04 at about 8.30 am, Gurpreet Singh and his friend Manpreet Singh were stopped, blind folded and bundled into a private vehicle and taken at a distance of a few kilometers from Bhatinda city. All the four five persons including SHO Talwandi Sabo, except one were in civilian clothes. They were rushed to Talwandi Sabo police station. Gurpreet Singh told the Panel that the SHO with lame excuse of recovering an illegal firearm from him tortured him with third degree methods like heavy wooden roller etc.

Gurpreet told the Panel that he never kept any illegal firearm nor any one had complained against him to the police before. He belongs to the family of Late Gurcharan Singh Mohallan of village Mohallan. This village falls in the assembly constituency of Pacca Kalan. His only fault was that he and his family had supported Mr. Jeet Mohinder Singh against Mr. Harminder Singh Jassi a congress candidate in the last assembly elections. Jeet Mohinder Singh defeated Jassi a former congress minister and presently Markfed chairman.

Gurpreet Singh was subjected to brutal third degree torture in the police station. When the first session of torture was over, Gopal Singh, real brother of congress leader Jassi along with a notorious smuggler of the area visited the police station and gave him a sarcastic look. They met the S.H.O there and what transpired between them is not known.

After the torture, at about 12.30 noon, they were taken to a place about two kilometers away from the police station. There a packet, the contents of which were not shown to him nor to the police witness, was produced and put on the bonnet of the vehicle. The whole drama was video taped by the police. At night Gurpreet was again tortured by the SHO.

On 2.1.04 Gurpreet Singh was taken to the civil hospital Talwandi Sabo for medical check up. The doctor without properly examining him gave fitness certificate to the police. On the same day Gurpreet was produced before a judge who gave him two days police remand. Next day on 3.1.04 Gurpreet Singh was taken to CIA Staff Bhatinda for interrogation. There S.P. (D) interrogated him but did not torture him. Devinder Attri, SHO again resorted to third degree torture there.

For torture wooden roller, electric shocks and pushing his head under water etc were used. Two three persons sat on his back and others pressed his head under water many times. Gurpreet told the Panel that he became unconscious twice during torture. During that process he received many bruises on his lower abdomen and severe pain in his chest. When asked about the way he was given electric shocks, Gurpreet told the Panel that a small device fixed on a wooden board was used for shocks. Faster they revolved the device, greater the shocks it gave. Gurpreet Singh was taken back to Talwandi Sabo police station. Gurpreet was taken to Talwandi Sabo Civil Hospital for medical examination. The Govt. doctor again without examining his condition gave a fitness report to the police. At Talwandi Sabo, the judge sent Gurpreet Singh to judicial custody till 18.1.04.
Disbelieving the medical report of Talwandi Sabo Civil hospital doctor, the relatives of Gurpreet Singh submitted an application for medical examination to the court of duty magistrate.

The Duty magistrate ordered immediate medical examination in civil hospital Bhatinda. Ignoring the latest orders of the judge, the SHO took Gurpreet Singh to the Central jail Bhatinda and presented the earlier medical report got from Talwandi Sabo doctor to the jail officers. Gurpreet Singh was taken into judicial custody by the jail officers.

When previous judicial orders were not followed by the SHO, a fresh application for medical check up was submitted in the court. The Judge ordered the medical examination in civil hospital Bhatinda. Gurpreet Singh was examined by Dr. K.S. Brar. He found multiple bluish brown bruises on lower abdomen, vesicular formation on private parts, pain in the chest and both thighs. He was admitted in civil hospital for treatment. Gurpreet was examined by specialist doctors namely Dr. Romana, M.S (Surgery), Dr. J.S. Sandhu, MS (Surgery) SMO and Dr. B.S. Gill a skin specialist. They confirmed the findings of Dr. K.S. Brar and continued the treatment in the hospital.

When the news papers flashed the torture case, several political parties and other organizations raise hue and cry. Some Akali leaders with their followers stormed District offices, met the SSP and went away never to be seen again. Every ruling political party has some skeletons in their cupboards.

District Administration got panicky. The Civil surgeon Bhatinda, probably at the instance of district administration, ordered another medical examination by his chosen doctors. The Board formed by him comprised of Dr. Charanjeet Pal SMO Maur, Dr. Kasturi Lal SMO Talwandi Sabo and Dr. V.K. Kaushal DIO Bhatinda Civil Hospital. Interestingly none of the three doctors is a specialist. The report given by this Board of doctors is medically wrong and ridiculous and professionally biased.

The Panel has many questions to ask. Why did the Civil Surgeon feel the need to form another Board of doctors when already a board of specialist doctors of civil hospital Bhatinda while treating Gurpreet Singh had confirmed the findings of Dr. K.S. Brar? What logic forced the civil surgeon to constitute a board of non-specialists doctors from outside, when so many of the specialist doctors are present at the civil hospital Bhatinda? After the report of the board of doctors, Why Gurpreet Singh was not discharged from the hospital if there were no injuries and only the stire present? The medical report given by this board of doctors on 14.1.04 is a classical example of manipulation by the police and doctors, violation of professional ethics by the doctors.

Devinder Attri denies that he tortured the accused. He still maintains that opium was recovered from Gurpreet Singh.

The only police witness when interviewed said that he was called only 15 minutes before by the police. He did not know anything about the case before. He was not shown whether that packet contained opium or something else. The Panel met Kapil Dev SSP Bhatinda on 21.1.04. He told the panel that SP (city) has been asked to investigate the case. As soon as that report reaches his office, action will be taken accordingly.

Interacting with jail officers, it was brought to the notice of the Panel that Gurpreet Singh was in bad shape when brought to the jail. He was finding it difficult to sit and stand and had to be helped while walking. The jail officers told the Panel that they had to take the custody of the accused in any condition when a fitness medical report is presented to them by the escorting police. Gurpreet was examined in the jail after so many days by Dr. Vitull Gupta. Gurpreet Singh still carries injury marks on abdomen and tenderness in thighs, abdomen and chest.

PHRC Panel, after thorough investigation, finds Mr. Devinder Attri guilty of contempt of Court by violating High Court directions against keeping instruments of torture in the police station, dereliction of duty, misuse of official powers and acting wrongly under political influence. The role of Talwandi Sabo doctor and the second board of doctors constituted by the Civil Surgeon Bhatinda are found by the Panel to be very biased and wrong. The copy of this report is being sent to the Medical Council of India and Department of Health and Family Planning Punjab also.

Copies of this report are being sent to Chief Justice Supreme Court, Chief Justice Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chairman National Human Rights Commission, Chairman Punjab State Human Rights Commission, Chief Minister of Punjab and Director General Police Punjab for immediate investigation and action. -- Ved Parkash Gupta, General Secretary, Punjab Human Rights Committee, 5042, Affim Wali Gali, Bhatinda, Punjab, Ph. 0164-2253903. E-Mail - vitull@sancharnet.in, January 24, 2004


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