Monday, September 3, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Tainted cops to return medals
Our Correspondent & PTI

Jalandhar, September 2
Punjab police officials who are facing the charges of human rights violation today decided that they would return the gallantry medals on October 21 even as they proposed to move the Supreme Court against their former superiors.

“We have decided to return the gallantry medals to the President of India on the occasion of Police Martyr’s Day on October 21 if the cases against us are not withdrawn,” Mr Sardool Singh, a spokesman of the Zinda Shaheed Police Officers Association, told reporters.

The association decided to file a writ petition in the Supreme Court for the registration of cases against the then Director-General of Punjab Police, Mr K.P.S. Gill, and the then senior police and civil officials for ordering and certifying the encounters conducted by junior police officials as genuine during the decade-long terrorism in Punjab, for which they are facing trial in different courts.

The members of the association also challenged the authority of the Punjab Government, which had granted sanction to prosecute police officers for their involvement in alleged excesses during militancy on the plea that only the Central Government was competent to do so as per Punjab Disturbed Area Act.

Mr Sardool Singh, a retired SP, alleged that though the junior police officials had carried out the orders of the then Senior Superintendent of Police to end militancy in the state and had fought a proxy war on behalf of the nation, senior police officials were never booked for the same act, which had landed them behind bars without any fault of theirs.

“How can the then DGP, Mr K.P.S. Gill, and the then DGP (Intelligence), Mr O.P. Sharma, who had masterminded the whole plan to eliminate terrorism in the state, be spared for those acts, which were committed on their instructions by junior officials? While more than 650 police officials are facing trial in different courts for alleged acts of excesses, their seniors are enjoying plum posts. Moreover, there cannot be different yardsticks while ordering prosecution in world’s biggest democracy like India,” he said.

Quoting the judgement of a court, in which seven Punjab police officials were convicted for their involvement in an alleged fake encounter in which a terrorist couple was murdered in Kolkata, Mr Sardool Singh said, “The police team had flown to Kolkata by a helicopter provided by the Home Ministry along with ammunition to arrest the terrorists, who were hiding in Kolkata at that time. Though a case had been registered against them for conducting an encounter during which the couple was killed, none of the senior police officials and bureaucrats of the Home Ministry was ever booked for issuing orders to nab the anti-national elements at any cost. The junior officials, who had obeyed the orders of their seniors, have been made scapegoats.”

“Can an SP hire a helicopter to conduct an encounter that too in some other state without the prior approval of his high-ups? Either the then SSPs, Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Magistrate should be booked for certifying those encounters which had taken place during militancy, as genuine,” he added.

The association, during its special meeting here today, decided to file a writ petition in the Supreme Court to book Mr K.P.S. Gill, Mr O.P. Sharma and the then SSPs, DCs and SDMs for their involvement in all the cases of alleged excesses for which they were facing trial in different courts.

The members said that they had already prepared a list of all those senior police and civil officials, who were at the helm of affairs and had virtually masterminded the plan to deal with militancy.

A copy of a letter of Ministry of Home Affairs addressed to the then Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr R.S. Mann, issued on June 13, 1997, which was made available to The Tribune, states, “Notwithstanding anything contained in Sub-section (3) of Cr PC, no court shall take cognizance of any offence, alleged to have been committed by any member of the forces charged with the maintenance of public order in a state while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty during the period while a proclamation issued under Clause (1) of Article 356 of the Constitution was in force therein, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government.”

Though the Home Ministry had clearly instructed the state government to refer all such cases for sanction of prosecution to it with full facts of the case, the Punjab Government had accorded sanction to prosecute hundreds of police officials in violation of the Central Government orders.

The association has also sought an appointment with the Union Home Minister, Mr Lal Krishan Advani, to seek amnesty in the alleged excesses committed by them while fighting a proxy war on behalf of the nation.

While arguing their case for general amnesty, the members of the association said, “If more than 600 youths, who were booked under various anti-national activities, could be released by the then Barnala government in the state on the recommendations of the Bains Committee and Central Government could release hardcore Kashmiri terrorists to secure the release of its citizens, who were kept under detention by Pakistan-based Kashmiri terrorists in Afghanistan, why the police officers who had been credited for bringing peace in the state by eliminating the decade-long terrorism, could not be allowed general amnesty.”

Meanwhile, Mr Rakesh Tejpal, president of the Union for Civil Liberties and Human Rights, alleged that the state government’s move to allow of prosecution of these police officers was politically motivated. He advocated that the cases against them should be withdrawn immediately.Back

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