Who Are The Real Terrorists? Ex-police Inspector Gurmit ‘pinky’ Lifts The Lid On Panjab Police Policy In The 1990’s To Torture And Kill Sikhs In Fake Encounters In Return For Handsome Rewards. He Exposes How Even Today The State And Police Continue To Connive
This week saw the release of a series of groundbreaking interviews with a former police inspector Gurmeet ‘Pinky’. Although the revelations he made are already well known to many in the Sikh struggle, he chillingly describes how fake encounters were routinely used by Panjab Police units to quell the Sikh uprising and goes on record to name many a high-ranking official, who were not only complicit in the extra-judicial killings, but would often get their ‘own hands dirty’ too.
It has been widely reported that innocent people were killed for the bounties put on the heads of known dissidents. It is also common knowledge that gangs of criminals were paid to enter villages late at night and rape, murder and pillage in return for huge financial rewards. Many officers went on to amass a great deal of wealth, whilst the victims were denied even the very basic of justice, like a death certificate for their loved ones, let alone any compensation. Families were left to rebuild their shattered lives and homes by taking loans and drowning in debt, just to survive.
Gurmit Pinky names former DGP’s KP Gill and Sumedh Saini as having a direct hand in many of the killings. Up until a few months ago Saini had been reinstated to the post of DGP of Panjab Police, in a move by the current Akali government that sent shockwaves around the Sikh nation. Nowadays, KP Gill spends much of his life in hiding although he does like to give interviews or write the odd book on his expertise of counter-terrorism. He prides himself on single-handedly leading the Panjab police to exterminate the Sikh militancy and even brags that his campaign “was the most humane in the world”. But, the confessions of Pinky shed a different light on the matter.
In 1991, Sumedh Saini who was SSP of Chandigarh at the time, was returning after lunch when he was involved in a bomb attack in which he was injured. He suspected this to be the handiwork of Babbar Khalsa activist Balwinder Singh Jatana. The day after the attack, when Pinky went to visit Saini at the PGI hospital, Saini broke down and swore revenge. He ordered an attack on the Jatana family—in which 4 members aged from 80 years to an infant—were killed and set on fire. The attack had been carried out by Ajit Poohla, who narrated the whole sequence of events to Pinky while the two were lodged in jail in Ludhiana.
Jaswant Singh Khalra was a human rights activist who had uncovered almost 3,000 records of Sikhs who were cremated by the police as ‘unidentified bodies’ but who had infact been killed by the police during custody or in staged encounters and their names and addresses were known to the police. Former DGP, K P Gill, denies having any knowledge of the Khalra case, even going as far as claiming Khalra may have been killed by Sikh militants. Yet, Pinky reveals Gill had a direct hand in Khalra’s death and in fact Gill insisted that he would not budge until Khalra was killed before the day ended.
Another case Gurmit Pinky discusses, is that of Kamaljit Singh Bholath. In 1989, Kamaljit Singh was brought in for ‘questioning’. Police felt he was proving to be a ‘hard nut to crack’ as he would only utter “Waheguru” each time he was subjected to third degree torture. According to Pinky, Inspector Shiv Kumar of the Ludhiana CIA, arranged for Kamaljit Singh’s “encounter”.
Pinky’s confessions, of which he says there are many more, make a mockery of the Indian states 3-decade long propaganda war to tarnish the Sikhs as ‘terrorists’. It proves the level of complicity between the State, police and central government and how the lure of financial rewards are used to carry out the most heinous of crimes. The State creates terrorism, the State uses its apparatus to spread terrorism and then the State reaps the financial rewards of stamping out terrorism. Who does the State have to answer to?
This issue is not one confined to the pages of history. One of the most well-kept secrets in the Panjab Police is that of secret funds, which come from two sources—one, the annual budget of the Punjab government, and two, those provided by the Union Home Ministry through the Intelligence Bureau and other agencies. These funds are directly controlled by the DGP of Panjab, through the ADGP (Intelligence). Pinky claims that these funds, to the tune of Rs 20 crore annually, are routinely misused by senior officers, “part of the funds are used to defend police officers who are facing criminal trials, parts are used to pay off sources who provide secret information and some of the secret fund account pays an equivalent salary to the officers who are convicted or in jail.“
Today, on World Human Rights Day, we demand India wakes up to the duty it owes to the Sikh nation, to hold to account and punish all those politicians, police officers and criminals, who ordered, carried out and rewarded the killing of tens of thousands of it’s own citizens.