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Who will compensate us, victims’ kin ask NHRC
Exclusion of other districts from list
Jupinderjit Singh and Mahesh Sharma
Tribune News Service

Saharan Majra (Ludhiana), July 28
A number of families in this district whose “innocent” members were killed in alleged fake encounters during militancy are upset at the decision of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to “ignore” their sufferings and take up illegal cremation cases of unclaimed bodies of just three police districts — Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Majitha — of the state.

The wounds have re-opened with the publication of a list of identified and unidentified youths killed in alleged fake encounters and cremated as unclaimed bodies in the three districts. The families are upset that despite their representations to the NHRC and the CBI, they have not been included in the list.

Most of the families are neck deep in debt and have already sold their land to meet the expenses of seeking legal justice, education of children and making the two ends meet.

Mahant Mohinder Singh and his wife Surjit Kaur of Saharan Majra village, located on the border of Ludhiana-Sangrur districts, is one such unfortunate couple.

Their eldest son, Inderjit Singh, was allegedly killed in a fake encounter in Uttar Pradesh in 1993, when he was in his late 20s. He was picked up by a team of the Punjab police from the Malaud police station and his body was found a few days later at Dilshad Bajurgan village in Uttar Pradesh. He was alleged to have been killed in an encounter with the UP police. His unclaimed body was cremated there only.

In the twilight of their life, the couple remembered how the police continued harassing them thereafter. The harassment forced their younger son, Major Singh, an employee with Co-operative Bank, to commit suicide in 1994.

At the persistent plea of the family, the CBI began investigation a few years later. ASI Harinder Singh of the Punjab police, DSP R.K. Singh, Inspector Brij Lal Sharma and constable Onkar Singh of the UP police were indicted in the case last year. They were arrested by the CBI and were released on bail. The family was jubilant that the law had finally upheld the innocence of their son.

But in the name of compensation, the family got Rs 1 lakh as interim relief from the Punjab and Haryana High Court. They got the guilty behind bars, but had to pay a heavy price.

Living a life in penury, they have sold everything. Now there is no money for the education of the two sons of the deceased. “We are braving threats and financial problems to continue fighting the gross injustice as well to keep living. We were hoping that the NHRC would get some compensation for us”, rues the couple.

Gulzar Singh of Jandiali Khurd village has lost all hopes of an inquiry into the mysterious disappearance of his son 13 years ago. His son, Babu Singh, was picked up by a team of the Punjab police from his house on March 5, 1991 but he never returned.

Since then they have knocked the doors of the police, the CBI, the PSHRC, the NHRC and politicians but have not got justice. Gulzar Singh could not pursue a case in High Court seeking CBI inquiry into the disappearance of his son as both his legs were broken in a road accident. a lawyer in Ludhiana also exploited his plight and took away thousands of rupees from him to fight their case. He fears that his son was killed in a fake encounter and cremated by the police. “Why did the NHRC not take up our case despite our representations to it?” he asked.

Bimal Singh of the same village is also distressed at the publication of the list. His brother, Chamkaur Singh, was picked up by the Punjab police on May 8, 1993 from his house. His whereabouts are not known since then.

“My brother too could have been killed and cremated by the police like thousands of others. We had hoped that organisations like the NHRC would come to our aid, but that hope too has diminished now”, laments Bimal Singh.
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