Punjab sets up probe into its own staged killings


Chandigarh : The Punjab Police Thursday ordered a probe into reports of staged killings by the force during 1982-1995 when the state was tormented by terrorist violence.

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Director General of police N.S. Aulakh has asked additional DGP J.P. Birdi to conduct a fact-finding inquiry into allegations that certain innocent persons were killed as “terrorists” by the police during that period while the “real” terrorists were still alive and residing under assumed names in Punjab.

A police spokesman said that the fact-finding inquiry has been ordered to get to the truth since the allegations levelled were serious in nature.

Media reports recently had pointed out that alleged terrorists, reportedly killed by the Punjab Police in encounters earlier, were still alive. The reports had suggested that innocent persons were killed in different parts of Punjab by police officials and shown as terrorists.

In certain cases, police officials had claimed rewards ranging from Rs.100,000 to Rs.2.5 million, for the killings.

The first case of a “dead terrorist” came to light recently when Gurnam Singh Bandala was found to be living in a village in Batala police district under the assumed name of Surjit Singh.

In police records, Bandala was shown as “killed” in a police encounter in Ropar district in August 1994. The police team even shared the reward of Rs.2.5 million that Bandala carried on his head.

State human rights organizations have now pointed out that an innocent man, Sukhpal Singh, was instead killed by the police in a stage killing and passed off as Bandala.

Nearly half a dozen similar cases of innocent persons being killed and passed in the name of “known terrorists” have surfaced in the state, forcing the police to order a probe into the matter.

Three of these known terrorists, including Bandala, were living comfortably in Punjab under assumed names.