Kulwinder Singh, alias Kid, aged 20, is the only child of Tarlochan Singh Sidhu, principal of Khalsa Senior Secondary School in Kharar, District Ropar. Kulwinder Singh was suspected by the police of having associated with the AISSF. He was arrested in September 1986 and lodged in the maximum security prison of Nabha for two years. He was released from jail on 27 October 1988.
From the day of his release, members of the Punjab police force from different districts started raiding Tarlochan Singh’s house, and taking Kulwinder and other family members into illegal custody for interrogation usually lasting several days, without stating any specific charges. On 4 January 1989 Tarlochan Singh met the SSP of Ropar to ask him why the police were still harassing Kulwinder Singh and his family. He assured him that Kulwinder was not wanted in any criminal case and there would be no further harassment.
Kulwinder Singh was married on 12 February 1989, and started living separately from the family, with his wife in house No.1752, Phase 5, Mohali, District Ropar. On 22 July 1989 around 11 a.m. a large number of policemen, many in plain clothes, laid siege to Kulwinder’s house. A sympathetic neighbour, familiar with his circumstances, fearing that the police might whisk him away once again, went to his father at his school and informed him about what had happened. Tarlochan Singh immediately contacted several friends (named in the report), who all accompanied him to his son’s house – it was around 3 p.m. – they saw Kulwinder Singh along with another young man walking down the lane from the opposite direction. When they neared his house, suddenly, nine to ten policemen pounced on them and captured Kulwinder Singh. When his companion tried to escape he was fired at. The group of friends saw him fall in front of house No.1765. The policemen dragged his injured body into an unnumbered jeep which was parked outside house No.1719. Kulwinder Singh was immediately blindfolded, his hands and feet tied and dragged into the same jeep.
The police action was led by Amarjit Singh, assistant sub-inspector, CIA staff, Patiala. The person’s name who had been shot was subsequently ascertained as Palwinder Singh, alias Pola, resident of Thade, Sadar police station, Phagwara. Tarlochan Singh immediately sent telegrams to the Governor of Punjab, the Director General of Punjab Police and the SSP of Ropar informing them of the incident and requesting them to prevent the boy’s murder in a ‘faked encounter’. On the morning of 24 July 1989 Tarlochan Singh learned that the police had staged an ‘encounter’ near the police station, not far from Kharar, on the previous night in the course of which two “terrorists” were claimed to have been killed. Suspecting that the victims might have been Kulwinder and his companion, Tarlochan Singh addressed a telegraphic petition to the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court requesting him to order that the bodies should not be cremated until they had been identified. The High Court did not admit the petition. The same evening Justice A.S. Bains, retired judge of the same court and Chairman of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, along with Inderjit Singh Jaijee, co-convener of the Movement Against State Repression, met the Deputy Commissioner of Ropar and requested him to let Tarlochan Singh take a look at the bodies after their post-mortem before they were cremated. The Deputy Commissioner telephoned the Deputy Superintendent of Police in the presence of Justice Bains and I.S. Jaijee and conveyed to him their request. He agreed and asked them to come to the Civil Hospital, Ropar. He, however, removed the bodies from the hospital before they had time to reach it and the police cremated them under the pretext of their being ‘unclaimed’. On 25 July Tarlochan Singh moved an application in the court of D.K. Monga, Sub-divisional Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, pleading for the direction to Ropar police to produce in his court the photographs, clothes and other articles recovered from the bodies of the two men who the police claimed were killed in the ‘encounter’ of the 23rd night. The magistrate merely issued notice to the police to file their answer.
The affidavit filed by the Station House Officer of the police station Mohali on 27 July 1989 stated that on 22 July 1989 assistant sub-inspector Amarjit Singh of the CIA staff Patiala along with other policemen raided house No. 1752, Phase 5 Mohali and that during the raid when the “terrorists” Palvinder Singh Pola and Kulwinder Singh opened fire on them, the police returned fire, killing Palvinder Singh. Kulwinder Singh, the reply said, had managed to escape.
Tarlochan Singh Sidhu was now convinced that his son had been [murdered], but fortunately, was proved wrong; some days later he met Satnam Singh of Mohali who had also been arrested by the Patiala police on 22 July 1989 from Phase 5 Mohali, and was subsequently released. Satnam Singh told him that he had seen Kulwinder at the residence of Surjit Singh Grewal, inspector CIA staff, Patiala, on the night of 24 July. Still another person, Sher Singh, arrested by the Patiala police on 21 July from Madan Pur Chowk, Mohali, and subsequently released, also confirmed that Kulwinder Singh was in S.S. Grewal’s custody and that he had seen him with his own eyes being interrogated by the said inspector.
On 22 August 1989 Tarlochan Singh submitted petitions to the President of India, the Home Minister, the governor of Punjab and the Home Secretary of Punjab, imploring them to institute a judicial inquiry into the alleged escape of Kulwinder Singh, but he received no response from them. On 22 September 1989 Tarlochan Singh filed a criminal writ petition under Article 226 of the Indian constitution for the issuance of writ in the nature of habeas corpus for the production of his son. The petition further sought the appointment of an impartial investigation in case the respondents denied his custody.
The petition was admitted; the respondents stuck to their theory of Kulwinder’s escape and the High Court has not yet ordered an inquiry. The petition is pending, the next date of hearing being 27 February 1990.