6 convicted for killing rights activist Khalra
Patiala, November 18
The accused had been booked by the CBI under Sections 302, 201, 364, 120-B and 34 for murder, destroying of evidence, kidnapping with intent to murder and conspiracy.
Jaspal Singh and Amarjit Singh were found guilty for murder and destroying of evidence while SHO Satnam Singh, SHO Surinderpal Singh, SHO Jasbir Singh and Head Constable Prithipal Singh were found guilty of kidnapping with an intent to murder and hatching a conspiracy.
They were awarded seven years imprisonment for kidnapping and five years for hatching a conspiracy. Both sentences will run simultaneously. All convicted are serving police officers except Surinderpal Singh, who has retired from the police.
Incidentally, DSP Jaspal Singh and SHO Satnam Singh were awarded the President's Police Medal for fighting militancy in the state. Jaspal Singh is also embroiled in another murder case of Harbhajan Singh Dhatt, nephew of Bhagat Singh, and is currently out on bail.
The clinching evidence in the case was provided by SPO Kuldip Singh, who was the gunman of SHO Satnam Singh at the time of Khalra's disappearance. He had once retracted his statement but later said it had been done under police pressure.
Paramjit Kaur Khalra, wife of Jaswant Singh Khalra, said she would have preferred capital punishment to the guilty. Lawyers of both parties said they would appeal in the high court against the verdict.
The CBI had initially presented the challan in the court against nine police personnel on October 30, 1996. Besides the six sentenced by the court, the challan included Tarn Taran SSP Ajit Singh Sandhu, DSP Ashok Kumar and Head Constable Rashpal Singh. Ajit Singh Sandhu had committed suicide by jumping in front of a running train in May, 1998 while Ashok Kumar died due to illness. Rashpal Singh was later discharged from the case.
Satnam Singh was then SHO, Jhabal police station, Surinderpal Singh was serving as SHO, Sarhali, and Jasbir Singh was the SHO, Manochahal police station.
Jaswant Singh Khalra, who was the general secretary of the Human Rights Organisation, had gone missing on September 6, 1995, from his residence at 8, Kabir Park, Amritsar, during Beant Singh's tenure. His wife moved the Supreme Court on September 9, 1995, and on November 11 that year, the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to probe the case.