The statement by Surjit Singh, a Tarn Taran police officer, has sent shivers through the Sikh Nation. Surjit Singh admitted to having killed over 83 Sikh youth in “fake encounters”. In Punjab and in other Indian states, the term “encounter” is used to describe the extrajudicial killings in which police stage the killing of their targets. These targets are many times already in police custody and are killed by police in order to receive rewards or promotions.
Wikipedia provides the following definition of a ‘fake encounter’ –
“A fake encounter or a “staged encounter” happens when the police or armed forces kill the suspects in custody or when the suspects are unarmed, and the police claim that they had to shoot in self-defence. In such cases, the police may plant weapons on or near the dead body to provide a justification for killing the individual. To explain the discrepancy between records that show that the individual was in police custody at the time of his “encounter”, the police may say that the suspect had escaped. Such killings are not authorized by a court or by the law.”
The statement by Surjit Singh reminds of the “dark decades” (1980s to mid-90s) that claimed uncountable lives. Many families were left totally disrupted and in a state of havoc due to police oppression and brutalities. During these two decades, Punjab Police went from village to village, family to family and door to door in hunt of Sikhs. They were to be made target primarily because the State’s policy of ensuring “no Sikh is left alive.” Essentially the Government wanted to and to a big extent, succeeded in eliminating a generation of Sikhs.
Along with Sikhs, many Hindus were also mercilessly eliminated by the Police in order to increase animosity between the two communities. The State Government and Police carried out such murders disguised as “hardcore Sikh militants”.
Where the Punjab and Indian Government have oppressed minorities in many ways, they have intuitively denied media coverage to such issues. It is important to note that while Surjit Singh was interviewed by many channels, only Day and Night News dared to publicize the statement. PTC Channel which is owned by Parkash Badal has decided to not provide any coverage of such big news. Day and Night News on the other hand remains banned in Punjab.
Already many senior ranking Government officials have denied the claims of Surjit Singh. D.R. Bhatti, Former IG Border Range while responding to Day and Night news totally rebuffed the claims of Surjit Singh and refused to acknowledge the issue while claiming that “such cases took place, but are very little in numbers.” This statement by D.R. Bhatti is totally surprising as it further evades the question that India has been trying to ignore for last two decades.
Surjit Singh is only one of the guilty officers and there are likely many more who have committed such crimes against the Sikhs and other minorities in India. The Sikh Nation affirms its belief that one day truth will prevail and like many other regimes, India too will need to face consequences of playing with the blood of its minorities. In the coming weeks, while providing follow up to the claims of Surjit Singh, Sikh24 will provide other information that exposes other Punjab Police officers. It is only a matter of time until such culprits will be punished and brought to justice.