The Arithmetic of Mass-Murder by India's PoliceVISHAVJIT SINGH
A month ago, a Punjab police officer made a spectacular public confession: that he had killed over 80 innocent Sikhs in the late 1980's on the express orders of his superior officers.
This would be quite a bombshell of news just about anywhere in the world. At least that is what one would think.
But not so in India.
Why, you might ask, is this not all over the India news media? Surely, someone in the country’s enormous diversity of the print news media and cable news channels must be going bonkers trying to cover all the angles of this story.
On whether this police officer was for real? Or, had he lost his mind? How could he have killed over 80 innocent people, get away with it, and still be a police officer? What do his superiors think about these revelations? Who are these people he says he killed? Are there any surviving family members? What are the authorities doing about it now?
Those are some questions for starters from a lay person. Journalists make their living for stories like this. This is a scoop of a life-time, being served on a platter, but just about every Indian news outlet has refused to bite.
Except one news channel in Punjab, Day and Night TV which broadcast the
expose by the police sub-inspector … his name is Surjit Singh.
Mysteriously, a mere month after it broke this story, Day and Night TV has shutdown its broadcast operations.
So, now we have a complete blackout of this story in India, barring a few online outlets mostly based outside the country. Even these can only be accessed by those within India who have internet access -- which means only a very small fraction of the population.
Surjit Singh had taken the extraordinary step of making his confession in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
He now fears for his life after having exposed his bloody deeds at the behest of his senior police officers. He has submitted a petition seeking protection for his life and liberty. When asked why he did not approach his seniors with these revelations, the sub-inspector responded that he was assaulted for bringing it up when he did … by his senior police officers!
He did not approach the state police chief, Director General of Police Sumedh Saini, since, in his own words, “The DGP himself was an encounter specialist!”
For the uninitiated, an “encounter specialist” is someone within the police force who concocts a fake encounter which allows him, the police officer, to shoot down a person who has still not been charged or found guilty of any crime. These encounters can also be used to kill ‘militants’ so they don't have to be tried in a court of law.
The presiding judge found these assertions too much to digest … and summarily rejected the petition.
I don't know about you folks but to me the bigger story than the utterly heart-breaking revelations is that this is not even news in India.
One of the biggest culprits for this grim silence is the arithmetic of mass murder that supports Surjit Singh's story.
It’s not that most journalists and news editors in India don’t know about such daily goings-on at the hands of their police; it is the very fact that they do know exactly what happens in such fake encounters, that encourages them to add two and two, and conclude that they need to kill the story by turning a blind eye.
In 1995, Jaswant Singh Khalra, a human rights activist, made a public declaration pointing to thousands of deaths at the hands of Punjab police officers. Jaswant Singh claimed to have unearthed evidence proving that the victims were secretly cremated by police and then listed in their records as 'unidentified'.
The then police chief KPS Gill answered these allegations with the following logic, ignoring the fact that police records had lists of the thousands of ‘unidentified‘ dead: that the thousands of Sikh youth who were now missing had merely fled to foreign lands using fake documents and the families were making false claims of missing persons by alleging fake encounters.
The police chief further claimed that the thousands were missing with the consent and connivance of their parents and families!
Some of the media in Punjab at the time picked up the story. But if one were to believe the healthy imagination of KPS Gill, there was no story worth pursuing here.
One person did get pursued.
Jaswant Singh Khalra was picked up by police officers soon thereafter. His body was never recovered. Years later a police officer under oath in a court case claimed to have seen KPS Gill visiting Jaswant Singh Khalra in prison days before the latter’s death ... while in ‘custody’.
So, what had Jaswant Singh Khalra really unearthed to justify being ‘disappeared’ himself? Numbers on paper, cremation records showing that in a single district in Punjab, over 2000 innocent Sikhs were killed by Punjab Police.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (“CBI”) in India was ordered by the Supreme Court to investigate Jaswant Singh’s revelations.
The CBI confirmed the tally of those killed in fake encounters at 2097 in Amritsar district alone. The remaining 16 districts of Punjab were not investigated. Why?
The simple arithmetic of adding numbers from the 16 districts where similar disappearances had occurred, points to the frightening figure of tens of thousands of Sikh young men killed during a short period.
The Punjab police did not want this arithmetic to be carried out. The CBI cooperated by limiting its investigation to one district.
The nation’s media cooperated by choosing not to cover the story.
They and the powers to be in the India’s so-called ‘democracy’ have succeeded in making sure no one gets to do this arithmetic based on actual evidence … no concerned citizen, no human rights activist, no organization, no Sikh and definitely not a police officer.
Just imagine if Surjit Singh’s latest confession had got the national coverage the story warranted.
Already, a second police officer has stepped forward confirming that he had witnessed the ‘disappearance’ of 15 more innocents in the same time period.
What if every police officer with blood on his hands comes forward?
One police officer killed 83, another killed 50, a third killed 24 …
Just about every police officer of the time has blood on his hands, at the very least by being involved in the cover-up or as an accessory after the fact.
The state and national political apparatus that sanctioned these killings and has provided immunity to cold blooded killers, needs to be publicly and officially identified as the bastion of state sponsored terrorism.
And we are talking just about Punjab here. Start adding the numbers from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kashmir, Nagaland … in fact, every area of India, because such police ‘encounters’ were wide-spread … and we have on our hands a mass-murder machine comprising of the state’s security apparatus itself.
Remember, the simple arithmetic that leads to the truth is being snuffed out by no other than your favorite Indian newspaper and cable channel!
August 7, 2013
Conversation about this article
1: R Singh (Canada), August 07, 2013, 7:57 AM.
People there are still caught up in the xenophobic state of mind, where any means is justified to maintain the notion of the 'nation-state' personified in terms such as 'mother-land/father-land' by power elites. It is irrelevant to the conversation when the country is bartered and sold down the street via commerce, by these very people. To keep the halo intact, while they loot and plunder, there have to be some necessary, shady, manufactured villains, whose mundane demands can be propagated as macabre attacks on the mother. The supposedly free media is only as free as it can keep people set up against each other to keep the power-mongers in business. Police are just the uninformed foot soldiers who are still trained according to colonial norms, to act on cue to kill and maim, their success on that front a feather in their caps and resulting in rewards from the masters. Not too far from the Brit Jallianwala mind set, where killing the perceived 'other' is an act of valour. Unfortunately the population has not mentally evolved to take on construct of that society, where creating victims has been its mainstay.
2: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), August 07, 2013, 10:03 AM.
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130706/punjab.htm#2 - From the article: "Surjit Singh said "... unscrupulous senior officers of the Punjab Police killed innocent citizens in fake encounters by using their juniors for their own promotions and police medals. The fight was much prolonged due to the atrocities of a group of sadist officers, who delighted themselves with torture and death." Surjit Singh's statements remind me of those made by Adolfo Scilingo, a navy officer in the Argentine military who exposed the role of himself and his superiors in the abductions and tortures of Argentine youth during the "Dirty War". The only difference is that Scilingo's remarks sent shock waves across Argentine society. India is a black pit where torture and oppression are the foundations of its dysfunctional 'civilization'.
3: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), August 07, 2013, 11:02 AM.
A lot of people in India are very aware of the fact that fake encounters in Punjab happened. However, many people feel that the deaths of innocent Sikhs were justified to help return "normalcy" to Punjab. It isn't hard to find these viewpoints, there are many comments on the internet left by Hindus of all political hues who have no problem with the deaths of Sikhs. Apparently they feel that Pakistan would have invaded the region and it was necessary to prevent Punjab from becoming India's Bangladesh. Of course, such a fear is intellectually dishonest, Pakistan is raised as a bogeyman to justify the actions of the Indian state in Punjab. I don't think any of these people honestly believe that Punjab was on the brink of secession.
4: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), August 07, 2013, 3:08 PM.
Sikhs are always positive and have always strived to be 'brainier' and 'brawnier' than the rest. Disasters -- natural or man-made, some even self-made -- are but crucibles in which we become all the more stronger and sharper in order to better serve Waheguru and humanity.
5: Gurjender Singh (Maryland, USA), August 07, 2013, 5:37 PM.
Due to the passage of time, the appearance of new generations, the absence of correct or full coverage in the media, and no mention of the history in text-books, sixty percent of the Indian population does not even know what happened to the Sikhs in 1984 and the decade that followed.
6: Bhai Harbans Lal (Dallas, Texas, USA), August 07, 2013, 8:43 PM.
Well said. The issue needs to be kept at the forefront to prevent this from happening again.
7: Harmeet Singh (Chicago, Illinois, USA), August 07, 2013, 8:55 PM.
These systematic crimes are more than mere "fake encounters" and "human rights abuses". They are crimes against humanity, no less, and should be referred to as such at all times.
8: H. Kaur (Canada), August 07, 2013, 11:14 PM.
The math makes the shivers go up one's spine, especially considering there were 70,000 cops with paramilitary powers (I got this figure from a human rights documentary called "India - Who killed the Sikhs" on youtube. Just in Punjab, I wonder how many tens of thousands of people were brutally murdered. How many more were tortured and raped? India wants to put a gag on any voice talking about this and is able to in India. I read an article in one Indian paper about the policeman who said he saw 15 fake encounters. It used the word "dared" for him and its tone seemed to me to be very negative, as if someone was condemning someone for being so bold. When I think of all the cruelty of this evil nation towards so many of its own citizens, my prayer to God is that it cease to exist as a political entity. I am positive someday it will.
9: Ranjeet Singh (Southampton, United Kingdom), August 09, 2013, 1:57 PM.
For all the statistics/probabilities, check out 'Politics of Genocide' by Inderjit Singh Jaijee. He even calculates the number of recorded bodies found in canals and rivers per mile. In March 1992, he calculated (after observing reports/fieldwork) that 19 bodies of Sikh youth had been found in the canals over a stretch of 19 kms. (p.94) Shocking!
10: H. Kaur (Canada), August 10, 2013, 1:13 AM.
I remember reading in a human rights report that the state of Haryana complained because the number of bodies coming from Punjab into their canals was high, bodies no doubt dumped by the demons aka India's cops. I find it sad that all those disappeared don't even seem to matter to so many Sikhs ... a whole lost generation!
11: H. Kaur (Canada), August 10, 2013, 1:20 AM.
I am wondering if anyone knows the answer to this? I have heard when Indira ordered Harmander Sahib to be attacked, gurdwaras in Haryana were attacked at the same time. I know other gurdwaras in Punjab certainly were. I just wonder why we are satisfied to just leave it at the attack on Harmandar Sahib when it was on dozens of other gurdwaras too.
12: Avninder Singh Cheema (India), August 10, 2013, 10:49 AM.
We are living in a age where our mood depends on how much LIKES I get on Facebook. Means, we are too much into virtual life and that we are getting cut off from real life and our duties towards family, society, religion, mankind, etc., etc. It's already been 29 years since the 1984 genocide and nothing has been done to punish the culprits. Neither has much been done for the rehabilitation of the effected people. Innocent killings, fake encounters, personal enmities, are a common occurrence in India. Punjab politics/politicians do play a part in the central government, but a dumb/mute person can't even make the other person spell the word 'Genocide'. And with the current political scenario and the way politics is played, it looks as if things will go from bad to worse. Where have all the lions of Punjab gone?
13: Bhapinder Singh (England), May 19, 2014, 8:05 AM.
Well said, Avninder Singh ji. I remind Sikhs on a regular basis and have been doing so for the last 15-18 years. We are divided. Remember, a lot of the officers who killed Sikhs and Punjabis were Sikhs! If a Sikh police officer is prepared to kill his own brothers, what can be done? Off-shoots of Sikhism are encouraged by the Indian State to weaken the Sikh Faith. There is a dog-eat-dog mentality in Punjab and our beloved Badal does what to improve things? Nothing! There is no justice available to the Sikhs within India!