Fake Encounter Cases – Pilibhit Massacre |14th July 1991

On 14th July 1991, the police reported 10 Sikh militants had been killed in three separate encounters in a forest close to the Nepal border. After the ‘encounter’ the police photographed the bodies and hastily cremated them. Human rights organisations investigated the incident as they did not believe the fantastical story of a pitched gun battle in the forest.

The ‘Human Rights Watch’ (http://www.hrw.org/reports/pdfs/i/india/india919.pdf) carried out an independent enquiry which uncovered that a bus carrying 25 Sikh pilgrims had been on a tour of the gurdwaras in Uttar Pradesh. The passengers included; 13 men (two of whom were elderly), 9 women and 3 children — two girls aged 10 and 15 and a 12 year old boy. At 11am on 12th July, the bus had been ordered to stop by the police at Kachla Ghat in the Badaun district about 125 km from Pilibhit. Around 70 armed policemen laid siege to the bus, the 13 men were ordered out and their hands tied behind their backs using their turbans, later the two elderly Sikh men were ordered to get back on the bus. The bus minus the eleven men was then escorted on to Pilibhit gurdwara.

Local people reported that the group of men was divided into three: two groups of four and one of two. One of the groups of four was taken to the Mela jungle of Dhamela Kuan, 20 km outside Pilibhit and all four were shot dead at approximately 4am on 13th July. The other group of four was taken to Phagunai forest, 70 kilometres outside Pilibhit. The granthi of a nearby gurdwara along with other local residents, saw the men being taken in a police jeep. Once in the forest the men were shot at point blank range along the banks of the Khannaut River. A Sikh farmer who owned a farmhouse adjacent to the site of the fake encounter heard the firing and said it went on for a couple of minutes. The remaining group of two was taken to Pattabouji, 20 km from Pilibhit. In Pattabouji, the police confiscated the rifle of a local farmer and later claimed that it had been used by the Sikhs ‘militants’ killed in the fake encounter. Other guns were also procured by the police from different localities to make it look like fierce gun battles had taken place against the police.

There has never been any news about the eleventh victim; 15 year old Talvinder Singh, son of Malkiat Singh from Nawadia village. Malkiat Singh who had organized the bus tour, desperately chased for information on what happened to his young son, but to this day he has been told nothing.

On 14th July 1991

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