Police killed thousand persons during militancy to get reward, 2000 persons cremated in Durgiana Temple- Paramjit Kaur Khalra. Though the Punjab has come out of militancy but the families who have lost their members still remember the dark days. Human Right Activist Jaswant Singh Khalra was who raised the issue of disappearance of 25000 persons and fake encounters by Punjab Police have become the victim of Punjab Police. Khalra was picked from his house by Police and his body was not found till date and later the court has convicted cops for kidnapping and murder in the case of Khalra. Talking to Rajdeep Benipal EDITOR-IN-CHIEF of Daily Post, Paramjit Kaur Khalra, wife of Jaswant Singh Khalra shared the horrific tales at the time of militancy. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
Q- What forced Jaswant Singh Khalra to raise the issue of fake encounters and disappearances of people?
Paramjit Kaur Khalra- Jaswant Singh Khalra was deeply pained with the daily reports of killings, fake encounters, families crying after the disappearance of their members. Many people realized that Government and Police is using wrong methods to maintain law and order situation in state and Jaswant Singh Khalra decided to raise his voice.
Q- How Jaswant Singh Khalra find evidences of fake encounters and disappearances?
Ans- Jaswant Singh was working as director of Cooperative bank in Amritsar. His two colleagues went missing under mysterious circumstances. Jaswant Singh got clue that his colleagues were picked by Police and killed in fake encounter. After this, Jaswant Singh started collecting the evidence and investigated the killings of his colleagues.
Q- What was evidence that colleagues of Jaswant Singh were killed by Police?
Ans- After getting some clue, Jaswant Singh visited Durgiana temple where his two colleagues were cremated. Jaswant Singh talked to the persons performing last rites who told that daily truck load of bodies came here for cremation. Later, Jaswant Singh scanned the records of cremation and found that in three years, as many as 2097 persons of Amritsar district were cremated in Durgiana temple. The records revealed that two colleagues of Jaswant Singh were also created in Durgiana temple. The Police have mentioned the name of village and other details to get reward. Despite the police have mentioned all the details of deceased but in the column of name, the Police has mentioned unidentified body. Jaswant Singh started meeting the families of victims and collected the evidences that 25000 persons disappeared during militancy and thousands of unidentified bodies were cremated by Police.
Q- What was the next step of Jaswant Singh Khalra?
Ans- Jaswant Singh Khalra approached Supreme Court of India but the apex court asked to approach High Court. The High court didn’t entertain the petition with a reason that only families of victims can pursue the matter. Later, Jaswant Singh approached the families and 40 different petitions were filed by the family members of victims in High Court.
Q- How did the Police react after the petitions were filed in court?
Ans- The 40 different petitions filed in High court left the state Government, the then Director General of Police (DGP) KPS Gill, his close aide SSP Ajit Singh Sandhu red faced. KPS Gill and Ajit Singh Sandhu wanted Jaswant Singh Khalra to remain silent. Former SSP Ajit Singh Sandhu approached Jaswant Singh Khalra but he refused for close door meeting.
Q- Have Jaswant Singh got any call of KPS Gill?
Ans- After the message was highlighted in media, KPS Gill held a press conference to justify the disappearances. Gill told media that the persons that those persons who were disappeared were settled in abroad and those who were killed in encounter were natives of Bangladesh and terrorists. During the press conference, Gill refuted all the allegations of Jaswant Singh Khalra.
Q- How did Jaswant Singh react on statement of KPS Gill?
Ans- A day after KPS Gill held a press conference, Jaswant Singh also called press conference and challenged state government, KPS gill for debate as he have all evidences of fake encounters and disappearances of youngsters.
Q- Did Jaswant Singh approached Chief Minister Beant Singh?
Ans- No, Jaswant Singh Khalra never approached CM Beant Singh. MLA from Patti constituency visited Jaswant Singh and informed him that Government has given green signal to eliminate him.
Q- When Jaswant Singh Khalra went missing?
Ans- Six days after the assassination of Chief Minister Beant Singh, Police has picked Jaswant Singh Khalra from the house. At that time, jaswant Singh was alone at home and neighbors have witnessed that Police officials came and took jaswant Singh along with them. However Police didn’t admit to detain or arrest Jaswant Singh Khalra.
Q- What was the action of family after Jaswant Singh went missing?
Ans- Jaswant Singh was picked on September 5 and after one day, I filed a petition in Supreme court of India. Apex court takes strict note and directed the Punjab Police to present Jaswant Singh khalra before the court within one week. Later, the state counsel informed court that Khalra was not in custody of Police. After that court has ordered investigation by Central bureau of investigation (CBI) regarding disappearance of Jaswant Singh Khalra. In 2005, the High Court has convicted six cops guilty and announced life sentence.
Q- Does any political party or NGO helped the family?
Ans- Government pressurized us to withdraw the statement that Jaswant Singh Khalra was picked by Police. As Jaswant Singh had visited Canada, America and delivered speeches, the Sikhs from abroad supported them and pressurize the government in case of Jaswant Singh. Sikh leader Gurcharan Singh Tohra also met former Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar but CM expressed helpness.
Q- Who you came to know about the death of Jaswant Singh Khalra?
Ans- In 1989, during the CBI probe, the gunman of SHO recorded the statement that Jaswant Singh Khalra was no more. He told CBI that on October 26 1995, Jaswant Singh Khalra was killed. However the cop was not clear about the body of Jaswant Singh. We believe that Police has thrown the body in river.
Q- Many facts about the killing of Jaswant Singh Khalra were still not clear. How do you feel?
Ans- The Police officials convicted in the kidnapping and murder were behind the bars. They can reveal the real story that how Police killed Jaswant Singh Khalra and where.
Q- Did Jaswant Singh Khalsa justified assassination of former CM Beant Singh?
Ans- On the day of assassination, I came to house from job and Jaswant Singh was watching news of Beant Singh. His reaction was it was expected that Beant Singh could be killed. He justified the assassination and said that now the militancy will end in Punjab.
Q- How the children see the death of Jaswant Singh Khalra?
Ans- I have sacrificed everything to get the Justice for her husband. Their children’s also feel that their father has died for a cause. Now, her daughter who is also a human right activist is residing at USA and contributing for society.
Who was Jaswant Singh Khalra?
Jaswant Singh Khalra was a Sikh human rights activist from Punjab. He brought attention towards 25,000 disappearances including unidentified bodies and illegal cremations involving Punjab police in Punjab from 1984 to 1995. He was a bank director in Amritsar of Punjab. Following operation bluestar and assassination of former Prime Minister Indra Gandhi, police started picked up suspected persons, terrorists and persons involved in illegal activities. During that period, several persons were killed by Police without any reason.
A human Rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra was deeply pained over the fake encounters and collected evidences of fake encounters, disappearances of 25000 people and cremation of unidentified people. The Police officials were against Khalra and he was picked by Police in 1995 from his house. His body was never found and family pursues legal battle in court. Following the CBI probe, the court in 2005 has found six Punjab Police officials guilty for kidnapping and murder of Jaswant Singh Khalra.
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