Recent illegal detainments, torture by police

August 6, 2005 | Comments Off on Recent illegal detainments, torture by police

There have been several recent arrests by police and allegations of torture and illegal detainment.

On June 5, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann was arrested at the Gurdwara Mao Sahib on charges of sedition while delivering pro-Khalistan speeches at a rally. On June 14, he was put in the Ludhiana jail. On July 23, more than a month after his arrest, he appeared before the Judicial Magistrate of Phillaur only to be returned to judicial custody until August 6.

Meanwhile, Simaranjit Singh Mann handed over a detailed letter to the SAD (Amritsar) General Secretary Dr Harjinder Jakhu, copies of which were later distributed to the newsmen by Mr Jakhu. In the letter, adressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr Mann has raised a nine-point demand charter and urged the Prime Minister to implement the human rights agenda agreed upon by Manmohan Singh and George Bush during his visit to the USA.

On July 26, Justice AK Goel of the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted bail to Mann on the condition that he not make any inflammatory or seditious speeches, and that he leave his passport with the court. Mann’s bail application had earlier been dismissed by a Ropar court. Mann’s counsel objected to the sedition charges and denied that Mann had made any such speech. Further, Mann argued that the Chief Minister and the Director-General of Police had made statements that would bias his case.

On July 28, Mann moved the court at Anandpur Sahib to begin contempt proceedings against Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab Director-General of Police SS Virk, arguing that their statements would bias his case.

Quoting from media reports in which the Chief Minister said “The state would love to keep him (Mr Mann) behind bars till he learns to behave,” the Akali leader said that “these statements can prejudice my case.” Further in his application, Mr Mann said Mr Virk had alleged that ” I had brought crores of rupees from abroad to revive terrorism in Punjab.”

According to law, Virk should have entered these allegations into the case diaries and informed the court.

The police have recently made several other arrests which lack information regarding the charges against the arrested; this leads to questions as to whether the charges are genuine.

Dal Khalsa president Harcharanjit Singh Dhami said that police falsely implicated six Dal Khalsa activists on June 8 for marching on the anniversary of Operation Bluestar. Instead, Dhami said that the activists had only raised pro-Bhindranwale slogans while holding his picture, which the police cannot charge as sedition.

On July 24, the Dal Khalsa asked Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to put an end to police “terror” targeting Sikhs for their religious beliefs. 

In a letter to the Chief Minister, president of the dal, Mr Harcharanjit Singh Dhami, expressed his anguish that the police had cracked downed on his organisation twice in four months. Reiterating the demand of the dal for the right to self-determination for Sikhs, he said their movement was peaceful.

In Kapurthala, Rajinder Pal died mysteriously while under police custody. Police arrested him on July 22 for possessing poppy husk, and remained in police custody until his death nine days later. The deputy superintendent of jails claimed that Rajinder Pal was a drug addict, and that his health began to deteriorate at 5 pm on the day of his death due to the non-availability of drugs. When the police brought him to the hospital at 7:15 pm, he was dead. Rajinder Pal’s family denies that he was a drug addict, alleging the police are attempting to cover up their failure to provide medication in time. Shashi Thakur, the widow of Rajinder Pal argues:

“The allegations of the jail authorities are baseless because if they claim that my husband died within two hours due to the non-availability of drugs then how do they explain his survival without drugs for the past 10 days?”

Residents of Mohalla Shergarh staged a dharna in protest against Rajinder Pal’s death.

In another case in Sangrur, a young Dalit man was admitted to the local Civil Hospital after he was tortured by the police. On July 8, police arrested Surjit Singh of Kotdoona village on a false complaint by a landlord of the village. Surjit Singh said that on July 14, he was beaten by the police while under their custody, and was brought to the hospital on July 16.

On July 17, a young man from Gobindpura Mohalla reported illegal detention and torture by the police. The man, Kapil Saini, said that on July 16, people from Nangal Colony beat him and then called the police. The police took him to the station, tortured him with a “shikanja,” and kept him under their custody that night. After a BJP leader protested, he was released and taken to the hospital.

A farmer in Ludhiana has reported illegal confinement and torture by the station house officer of the Lambran police station. The farmer, Tejinder Pal Singh, was arrested after two people held for stealing a trolley gave a statement that they sold the trolley to him. The farmer reported that on July 25, the police called him to the station for interrogation, bound his hands and feet, and then tortured him. He received medical attention at the Civil Hospital the following evening.

On July 27, a Kharar court remanded former SHO Amarpreet Singh of the Nayagaon police station until August 5. He had been arrested for aiding the accused in a 2003 rape case. The SHO was charged with being a party to the kidnapping of the victim, her parents, and her brother, and for holding them in illegal custody in order to coerce them to agree with the accused.

In Moga on July 30, following the directions of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, four police officers were booked for arresting a youth and torturing him. A woman had complained to the commission that one of the officers had raided her house on July 21, 2004, took her son, and tortured him.

There have also been numerous recent arrests in connection with the capture of Jagtar Singh Hawara, the man accused of the assassination of Chief Minister Beant Singh. The police allege that the arrested are Hawara’s accomplices who are planning more terrorist acts, but others allege that the arrested are innocent and are being illegally detained.

On July 18, the Ropar CIA arrested three Babbar Khalsa International members who had allegedly given shelter to Hawara after his escape from the Burail jaul.  Dharminder, one of the arrested men, was interrogated by the police before they allegedly recovered RDX and a detonator. The other two arrested men are Amritpal and Sukhwinder.

The same day, International Human Rights Organization leader DS Gill said that he would approach the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to seek respite for Balwinder Kaur, Hawara’s wife. She has been detained and alleges mistreatment while under police custody and the possibility of illegal execution.

On July 8, the Punjab Rights Forum, a group of human rights associations, demanded that wrongly detained people be released from jail while a probe is conducted into unaccounted weapons and ammunition possessed by Punjab Police officials.

The forum presented a detailed memorandum in this regard to the Punjab Governor General S.F. Rodrigues (retd) here today. Members of the forum expressed concern over the “gross and systematic abuse of human rights” of political activists.

Further, the forum said that the police are deliberately withholding the detention locations, charges, and names of those detained, thus creating a climate of fear. The forum added that innocent people were being arrested and that evidence is being planted to falsely link people to Hawara.


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