M A I N   N E W S

67 yrs on, INA suicides turn out to be custodial deaths 
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
Sixty-seven years after nothing less than a “movie script” was penned down to pass the custodial death of two Indian National Army officers as suicide, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today created history of sorts by not just ordering compensation, but also setting the past right.

Lt Ajmer Singh and Capt Maghar Singh’s custodial deaths were dubbed as suicide after a Court of Inquiry (CoI) was held at Red Fort on February 9, 1946. The infirmity in history was brought to Justice Ranjit Singh’s notice by historian-cum-High Court advocate Malwinder Jig Singh Waraich.

Refusing to believe the suicide story, Justice Singh asserted: “Such a thing can happen only in movies — A soldier coming to a cage, allowing his weapon to be snatched and silently watching one person being killed and another shooting himself without the intervention of anyone.”

Justice Singh asserted that the two officers of the British Indian Army joined the INA, but were done to death on November 5, 1944, after being captured by the British forces in June 1944. The CoI was held on the orders of Commander-in-Chief for looking into the evidence to find how the two officers had died in the same cage with gunshot injuries.

Justice Singh ruled: “A perusal of the inquiry shows it was so brief that to-be-farcical would be the apt word to describe the same. It was apparently done just to complete the papers to pass off the two custodial deaths of the officers, concededly taken as prisoners of war, as act of suicide. The manner in which the inquiry was held would be proof enough of the fact that false details were weaved in to justify these killings….”

After the legal representatives of Capt Maghar Singh refused compensation, Justice Ranjit Singh ordered a token compensation of Re 1 “just to recognise the fact that custodial death in this case was not justified”. A compensation of Rs 5 lakh was, on the other hand, awarded to the representatives of Lt Ajmer Singh.





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