Kids Corner

Above: Mass-murderer Sumedh Singh Saini (on the right) hobnobs today with Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal (who also happens to be the son of the Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal!). Below: the mass-murderer ‘Pinky’.

1984

Confessions Of An Indian Killer Cop
Part II

KANWAR SINGH SANDHU

 

 

 




Part II

Continued from yesterday …

 

EDITOR’S CAVEAT: While Pinky reveals a nefarious pattern of criminal behacviour within the Indian police and para-military apparatus, he adeptly sprinkles lies and half-truths in his expose, hoping to ingratiate his employers and get further concessions with their help vis-à-vis his current predicament.




INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE TOP

Pinky also recalls how, in 1989, they had chanced upon a person belonging to a Hindu militant outfit who was carrying an illegal weapon. His interrogation revealed that he was part of a wide network of Hindu radicals and led the police to recovering three sten guns, 35 pistols and a huge cache of ammunition.

As the police were about to lodge an  FIR, Ludhiana BJP leader Lajpat Rai barged into the CIA office to protest.

“SSP Saini also arrived and we were told not to file the FIR and release the illegal weapons,” recalls Pinky.

[EDITOR: Please note - Sikh resistance fighters are described as ‘terrorists’ or ‘militants’, Hindu terrorists are mere ‘radicals’.]

Pinky also claims that many of the militants were in touch with the senior officers.

“We were made to let go of many persons who we would arrest following tip-offs,” he says.

He recounts how they had arrested a Rajinder Choda from Kartarpur, who gave them vital information about top-level militants.

“While you are arresting me,” he told his arrest party, “your own senior officers are talking for hours with our top-level militant leaders, including Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala.”

Sure enough, there was instant pressure from an official of a nodal intelligence agency who said that Choda was their source and should therefore be released.

“Since an illegal weapon had been found on him, I refused to let him go. The then Ludhiana SSP, P.S. Sandhu, called me and told me to go and leave Choda back in Kartarpur. It is another matter that Choda was killed by militants three days later as they got suspicious about his release,” reveals Pinky.

“That is when I felt that terrorism was being controlled by certain people at the top.”


Jatana Family Home Saini had it “burnt down” in a fit of vengefulness

‘PINKA MOHALI SHOT IN MY PRESENCE’

Pinky narrates a shocking case in which he personally saw Saini, then Ludhiana SSP, shoot militant Pinka Mohali with his weapon at CIA, Ludhiana.

Listed as a non-hardcore militant, Pinka was arrested by a CRPF party led by Chanchal Singh and handed over to CIA, Ludhiana. He was interrogated in the presence of Saini, and when he refused to part with any information, the police tried to force a cyanide capsule down his throat.

The pill did not have the desired effect so he was forced to drink pesticide. But this too did not work.

Seeing this, Saini, according to Pinky, lost his cool and shot Pinka in the forehead.

When asked who all were present when this happened, Pinky says there was, besides himself, cop Satpal (who later became a sub-inspector). Pinky recalls how Satpal tried to take credit for the arrest and requested the SSP to give him a C2 (which would enable him to get promoted to the next rank of head constable).

“The SSP jokingly told him that if he drank the rest of the pesticide mixture, he would give him the C2!” Saini says. Satpal, who was also Shiv Kumar’s driver, panicked. Shiv Kumar himself was also there on the scene as was CRPF’s Chanchal Singh and Joginder Singh Khaira, SP (D).

Then CIA inspector Sant Kumar took the body away in a Gypsy (motor vehicle) and reportedly dumped it in the Bhakhra canal, as was the norm. As the arrest of Pinka Mohali had not been shown, no case was registered and the killing remained unknown to the outside world. The family members of Pinka Mohali, whose real name was Jasbir Singh, were never given any information of his death in police custody, his body or any of his belongings.

His brother Ajitpal Singh said he was in Mumbai when a close relative informed him about Pinka’s death in an “encounter” somewhere in Ludhiana district. They had learnt about it later from a newspaper cutting.

THE ELIMINATION OF THE JATANAS

Pinky also talks about certain cases that took place in Chandigarh while Saini was SSP. His favourite at the time, Pinky would spend most of his time in Chandigarh even though he was still officially posted in Ludhiana.

On August 9, 1991, Saini was returning after lunch when there was a bomb attack. Three persons were killed, and the SSP was among those injured.  Since just a week earlier, he had received a threatening letter from Babbar Khalsa, he suspected this to be the handiwork of its activists Balwinder Singh Jatana and Charanjit Singh Channa.

The day after the attack, when Pinky went to call on him at the PGI,  Saini broke down and swore revenge. In chaste Punjabi, he told him “apaan chadna nahin” (we will not spare them).

Four members of the Jatana family -- aged 80 years, 40 years, 13 years, and an infant -- were killed and set on fire. No one is willing to talk about it even now, except to say that it happened at about 2.30 in the night.

“Early morning, the village granthi saw the burnt house and informed everyone,” says a villager.

Jatana and Channa were killed later on September 4, 1991, in an encounter at Saidpur in Patiala. The attack on Saini, it later turned out, had in fact been carried out by another outfit, Khalistan Liberation Force, and the Jatanas had no role in it.

It was he who had been initially assigned to carry out the attack in Jatana village, says Pinky. He told Saini he would have to procure weapons for the task from Ludhiana, where he was posted. Pinky left for Ludhiana soon after, only to discover that the deed had been done by the time he was returning to Chandigarh.

The attack had been carried out by Ajit Singh Poohla, who narrated the whole sequence of events to Pinky while the two were lodged in jail in Ludhiana. In 2008, Poohla was attacked, kerosene poured on him and he was set on fire by fellow inmates in Amritsar jail. He died soon after.

Saini’s vengeance, however, went on.

Channa’s brother Balwinder Singh, a head constable himself, was killed by a gun-wielding motorcyclist at about the same time.

“While this was given out to be the result of gang warfare, it was the handiwork of the police on instructions from seniors,” Pinky claims. Satpal Channa, a third brother, says Balwinder had gone to the market when he was shot. “His killing has remained a mystery all these years,” he says.

Pinky remembers how the Jatana village incident kicked up a huge row within the police. Muhammad Mustafa, the then SSP Ropar, wrote to the then DGP, D.S. Mangat, alleging that SSP Saini was behind the dastardly elimination of the family. It was rightly suspected that Poohla or Pinky were behind the killing.

“Lest we were arrested and the plot unravelled, Poohla was informally detained in Jalandhar and I in Chandigarh Police Lines in Sector 26 for many weeks,” says Pinky. “It was only when K.P.S. Gill replaced Mangat as DGP that we were ‘released’ from custody.”

‘I SAW MULTANI BEING KILLED INSIDE THE CHANDIGARH POLICE STATION’

Pinky recalls another chilling death in custody in the Sector 17 police station in Chandigarh to which he was an eyewitness. It pertains to the death of Balwant Singh Multani, son of IAS officer Darshan Singh Multani.

(Incidentally, the Supreme Court had on December 8, 2011, quashed the CBI case against Saini and others for the elimination of three people, including Multani. Pinky’s revelations could reopen the sordid case.)

Multani had been arrested by sub-inspector (later inspector) Jagir Singh and brought to the Sector 17 police station. He was not forthcoming with information. Since Saini was present at the police station, he asked Inspector Malik, who was leading the interrogation, to tighten the screws (literaaly, of the torture instrument). He ordered that a stick be shoved up Balwant Singh.

Malik hesitated and said he had never done this. “You have to do it,” he said, even giving directions on how to do it: apply oil to one end of the stick. Balwant Singh collapsed at the insertion and his body taken away to be disposed of.

Pinky names others who were present there and witnessed the killing. “The story of Multani’s escape during recovery of weapons the next day was fake,” he says.

SENIORS POCKETED ‘REWARDS’

As for the top militants, Pinky claims that while the police did succeed in arresting them through a wide network of informers, the manner of their killing, as claimed by police in encounters, was fabricated. He recalls how he was part of a police party led by Ludhiana SSP S. Chattopadhyaya, B.S. Gill and Inspector Manmohan Singh which caught top militant ideologue Sukhdev Singh Babbar alive in Patiala in August 1992. He was picked up, questioned and killed in a fake encounter at Dharod near Ludhiana.

B.S. Gill apparently also took away his Maruti 1000 car.

“Let there be an inquiry and let these people deny what I am saying,” says Pinky.

What the police were doing in Ludhiana was typical of what was being done elsewhere too. Pinky recalls how the police had, with the help of pinpointed information by a cat, managed to catch Gurmukh Singh Nagoke, a self-styled Lt General of KCF, in October 1992 at the Mukerian bus stop. He was with his wife and three-month-old baby at that time.

Pinky alleges that the encounter on the Khanna-Samrala road on October 2, 1992, was staged. “The militant, along with his wife, were killed, and their three-month-old baby was given away to the panchayat (village council). Khanna SSP Raj Kishan Bedi filed the FIR and claimed most of the reward money.”

Exactly a month later, another self-styled Lt General of the KCF, Harminder Singh Sultanwind, was killed in a staged encounter on the Khanna-Samrala road. He had been caught in Delhi after the wife of a top militant who had been caught agreed to call Harminder on the ruse that her child had been admitted to hospital and needed blood. When he arrived at the hospital, he was caught and sent to Khanna, where he was interrogated by the CIA, headed by Ashok Puri, before being killed off in the “encounter”.

A sum of Rs 3.8 million and a .38 bore revolver with a gold butt were recovered from Sultanwind’s hideout in Sector 36, Pinky reveals.

“The Rs 3.8 million recovered was never declared and it was used for construction of police quarters in Khanna following the approval of K.P.S. Gill, who inaugurated the building,” he says.

The .38 bore weapon, Pinky claims, remained with the police officers.

EVEN NON-TERRORISTS WERE ELIMINATED BY POLICE FOR MONEY

Pinky claims that since the police had assumed absolute power, there were instances when petty criminals who fell into police traps were eliminated because money deals were involved.

One of Pinky’s accomplices in Khanna describes how in 1993 they were asked to offload two persons from the Golden Temple Express train at Phagwara. The two, who turned out to be hawala dealers, were taken to SSP Bedi, and a sum of about $70,000 recovered from them.

They were put through interrogation for one week at the CIA, headed by Inspector Amrik Singh, though no arrests were shown. While one of them was let off, the other, Avtar Singh Tari, from a village in Kapurthala district, was shown as killed in an encounter a week later.

To make the “encounter” credible, he was shown to have been killed with a wanted terrorist, Darshan Singh of Manki village near Samrala, says Pinky. The FIR lists the names of 30 cops who took part in the “encounter”!

What happened to the 70,000 dollars, we ask Pinky.

“Ask Raj Kishan Bedi and Joginder Singh Sandhu, SP (D), who staged the encounter,” he tells us. “The person was no militant and lost his life because of the greed of senior officers for the dollars he was carrying.”

Pinky also tells us how, at about the same time, a severely disabled person, Darshan Singh ‘Baba’ of Gosal village near Samrala, was picked up on suspicion of instigating the youth to take up arms. The man had no hands and feet and would move around on a wheeled cart. The police informer told us how he had called the baba to the Nadha Sahib Gurudwara near Panchkula, where he was picked up by the cops. 

Darshan Singh Gosal’s mother, Ranjit Kaur, did admit that her handicapped son entertained extremist views and that he had gone to Chandigarh when he was “picked up”. The family traced him in the custody of Morinda police where some policemen demanded Rs 200,000 for his release.

“Since we could not arrange it, we were told he was killed. We got no information whatsoever,” she says.

The informer says Darshan Singh was put in a sack, taken to Khanna and thrown into the Bhakhra canal along with his cart. The informer himself was later recruited into the police but dismissed soon after, and is full of remorse about getting a disabled person kidnapped and killed on a mere suspicion.

Bedi, when contacted on telephone, denied Pinky’s allegations. “He is a convicted cop who has no credibility. He is making up stories. Why did he not speak out earlier? Let me say it categorically that I did no wrong while in uniform,” says Bedi.

He also categorically denied having ordered or carried out any fake encounters. When asked specifically about the killing of Nagoke and Sultanwind, he said he did not remember the specifics. On the allegations of the killing of hawala dealer Tari and the handicapped Darshan Singh Gosal during his tenure in Khanna, he said there was no truth in all these charges. “If there was any truth, their relatives would have spoken out,” he says.

Bedi, whose son had been killed by militants, now stays at the headquarters of a religious sect in Beas.

K.P.S. GILL SAYS NO HUMAN RIGHTS WERE VIOLATED

Though Pinky has no first-hand knowledge of the death of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra in Tarn Taran, he offers some insight. This is because he shared a jail barrack with Jaspal Singh, DSP, who was among the persons convicted in the case.

He claims that Khalra was killed by Jaspal Singh and others on the directions of “senior officers”. Pinky is not willing to name the “senior officers” he is alluding to and adds, “Let Jaspal Singh and others convicted do that.”

But ‘Super Cop’ K.P.S. Gill, former DGP, Punjab, had denied any knowledge of the Khalra case. In an interview to this reporter in September 2015, he had claimed that Khalra may have been killed by terrorists. Gill also said that reported excesses by cops were minimal and that the anti-terrorism campaign in Punjab “was the most humane in the world”. He also stated that if any police officers did any wrong, they did so at their own level and were never asked to do so by him.

MISUSE OF ‘SECRET FUNDS’

One of the most well-kept secrets in the Punjab Police is that of secret funds, which came from two sources -- one, the annual budget of the Punjab government, and two, those provided by the Union Home Ministry in New Delhi through the Intelligence Bureau and other agencies.

These funds were directly controlled by the DGP, Punjab, through the ADGP (Intelligence). Pinky claims that these funds, to the tune of Rs 200 million annually, supposedly to pay off sources who provide secret information, were routinely misused by senior officers.

“A part of the funds is given to the litigation branch to defend police officers who are facing criminal trials,” he says. The litigation branch also pays money equivalent to the salaries of the officers who are convicted or in jail as undertrials out of the secret fund account.

“Like everyone else, even my family got this ‘salary’ till May this year,” he says. “A clerk used to come and get signatures on delivering a packet. Those police officers in jail with me used to tell me that they get this amount too. Let there be an inquiry.”

When asked about the alleged misuse of these secret funds, Punjab ADGP (Law & Order), H.S. Dhillon, who was till recently the ADGP (Intelligence), said it would be unprofessional on his part to talk of “intelligence operations”.

*   *   *   *   *

When the charges levelled by Pinky were brought to the notice of present Punjab DGP Suresh Arora, there was a sense of disbelief. He has refused to comment on the allegations at this stage.

Repeated efforts to contact Saini, the prime focus of Pinky’s allegations, were unsuccessful. Messages left at his places remained unreturned.

However, an ADGP who did not want to be named said that as many as 1,784 personnel of the Punjab Police either died or were injured while tackling terrorism. This included the 45 who got Police Medals posthumously, including two DIGs and eight SP-rank officers.

“Would this happen if the encounters were false?” he asks. When asked about specific cases, however, he said, “All this is history and we prefer not to remember things of that period.”

CONCLUSION

So, who authorised what appear to be illegal and unconstitutional actions on the part of some police officers?

Indications of the tacit approval to such actions were inadvertently spelt out by a top official of the Intelligence Bureau to the Punjab DGP in a “secret” letter on December 30, 1991.

There is no doubt that Pinky’s own track record is highly dubious. Moreover, since he stands disgraced, how credible can his version be? At the same time, can so many sensational disclosures of brazen illegalities be totally ignored?

“Let those who deny what I am saying come face to face with me. Let there be a public debate and inquiry,” he demands.

At the very least, this must lead to some epitaphs being rewritten.

CONCLUDED

*   *   *   *   *



The author is a distinguished senior journalist based in Chandigarh, Punjab and has worked for India Today, Indian Express and Hindustan Times. After heading the ‘Day & Night’ channel, he now runs a production house, Free Media Initiative.


[Courtesy: Outlook. With input from Chander Suta Dogra and Kasif Farooqi]

December 7, 2015


 

Conversation about this article

1: Japji Kaur (Liverpool, United Kingdom), December 07, 2015, 6:40 AM.

No one escapes justice, no one. Not even nations and communities who do terrible things to humanity. The US is plagued by self-inflicted mass-murders. Israel wallows in perennial misery. Pakistan swims in the very violence in which it was born. And there is India! No wonder, the biggest share of biblical-style fire and brimstone is reserved for India. Does anyone ever wonder why? If you do, read this article, and despite its half-truths, convolutions and obfuscations, it tells us all that we need to know of the rot that lies in the heart and core of India.

2: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), December 07, 2015, 2:41 PM.

I read cases like these when I was writing my capstone for law school. I couldn't sleep for an entire month. I wonder how a person who actually committed these acts lives his life.

3: Gurteg Singh (New York, USA), December 07, 2015, 9:36 PM.

The name could be Pinki or Tinki or Sumedh Saini or KPS Gill as the visible and public faces of tyranny, but what we must NEVER forget, that it was all done by the Indian Government, its agencies RAW, IB, Army, para-military forces and ordered by Hindu leaders of India, irrespective of party affiliations. All arms of the Government were provided complete immunity from Law by a pliant communal Hindu judiciary with propaganda cover provided by the Indian media. What Pinki the Cat has revealed is not even the tip of the iceberg compared to the scale of horrendous atrocities and genocide Sikhs were subjected to by criminal terrorist Hindutva establishment which controls the levers of power in New Delhi since 1947.

4: Kaala Singh (Punjab), December 07, 2015, 9:59 PM.

There may have been some who were ideologically-driven to fight for justice and freedom but this article proves that at least some of the people involved in whatever they did were money-driven ... not to mention all those who were on the Government payroll and willing to commit any crime, no matter how horrendous. It is hard to understand how a person who supposedly picks up the gun to fight against oppression and injustice, switches sides after a few kills to establish his reputation as a militant and become worthy of recruitment in the police (only God knows whom he killed). He then becomes a police officer and starts killing innocent people for money. This shows the extent of rot and moral corruption in Indian society. The question that comes to mind is, who created the conditions of anarchy for this to happen?

5: Raj (Canada), December 13, 2015, 5:00 PM.

Now send these two articles to that moron Joe Clark (then External Affairs Minister of Canada, now relegated to the dustbin of history) who was so eager to sign an extradition agreement with India. Let his soul suffer a bit.

6: Hitpal Singh (Auckland, New Zealand), December 16, 2015, 11:47 PM.

Many present day politicians are involved in the drug trade. The Badals have taken over both commerce and religious affairs as private businesses and are plundering the state bare. Whatever comes out from their mouths is evil and false, and so is the case of the BJP/RSS thugs.

7: Raj (Canada), December 17, 2015, 3:54 PM.

Even if the Badals are ousted from the SGPC and Punjab, what alternatives do we have? The SGPC is inadequate, having lost its independence. Its constitution is unheard off. I asked for a copy at the SGPC offices at Darbar Sahib in 2004; they didn't have it and couldn't even direct me to the right book store to buy one, if it existed. We can raise hell about corruption, but we don't yet have a bullet-proof alternative to guide us for the future.

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Part II"









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