Jaswant Singh Khalra
|Jaswant Singh Khalra|
November 2, 1952|
Amritsar, Punjab, India
|Died||Killed by Ajit Singh Sandhu & KPS Gill (Punjab Police)|
Jaswant Singh Khalra was a bank director in the city of Amritsar in Punjab during the militancy. Following Operation Blue Star, the assassination of Indira Gandhi, and the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots, police were empowered to detain suspects for any reason, ostensibly as suspected terrorists. Police were accused of killing unarmed suspects in staged shootouts and burning thousands  of dead bodies to cover up the murders.
While searching for some colleagues who went missing, Jaswant Singh Khalra discovered files from the municipal corporation of the city of Amritsar which contained the names, age, address of those who had been killed and later burned by the Police. Further research revealed other cases in 3 other districts in Punjab, increasing the list by thousands.
The National Human Rights Commission released a list of some of the identified bodies that cremated in the police districts of Amritsar, Majitha and Tarn Taran between June 1984 to December 1994. That list can be viewed here.
Speeches: When Jaswant Singh Khalra traveled to Canada to display the proof he had against the Indian Government revealing their hand behind the mass killings of thousands of innocent Sikhs, he delivered many speeches across the nation. One of his most memorable and heart touching speeches consists of this fable:
There’s an old tale about when the sun was first settling. As her distance narrowed to the horizon, the light on earth was diminishing. This made way for darkness to creep over the land. The people were afraid that when the sun would finally set, darkness would be permanent. No one would see anything, what will happen to us, they said.People were fearful with the sun completely set, darkness to show his strength and put his foot over the earth. Far, far, far in the land somewhere in a small hut a little lantern lifted its wick; it said “I challenge the darkness.” If not everything, but my small corner I will not let the darkness settle itself around me. With this wick's example many other little lanterns in other small huts lifted their wicks to the darkness and people were shocked that so many little lanterns illuminated the mask of darkness from taking over the earth so that they could now see. Now I believe that today when darkness, with all its strength thrusts itself over the truth, if not anything else I will say Ankhila Punjab is the light that will challenge it and I pray to the Guru who identifies with Truth to keep this light lit.
Murder and Coverup
On 6 September 1995, while washing his car in front of his house, Khalra was abducted by under-cover commandos of Punjab Police at behest of Senior Superintendent of Police Ajit Singh Sandhu and taken to Jhabal police station. Although witnesses gave statements implicating the police and have named former police chief Kanwar Pal Singh Gill as a conspirator, police denied having ever arrested or detained him, and claimed to have no knowledge of his whereabouts.
In 1996, the Central Bureau of Investigation found evidence that he was held at a police station in Tarn Taran and recommended the prosecution of nine Punjab police officials for murder and kidnapping. Those accused of his murder were not charged for ten years, though one of the suspects committed suicide in 1997. On 18 November 2005, six Punjab police officials were convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment for Khalra’s abduction and murder. On 16 October 2007 a division bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court, chaired by Justices Mehtab Singh Gill and A N Jindal, extended the sentence to Life imprisonment for four accused Satnam Singh, Surinder Pal Singh, Jasbir Singh (all former Sub Inspectors) and Prithipal Singh (former Head Constable).
On 11 April 2011, the Supreme Court of India dismissed the appeal filed against the sentence to Life imprisonment for four accused scathingly criticizing the atrocities committed by Punjab Police during the disturbance period thereby serving justice to the family members of Jaswant Singh Khalra.
- Kumar, Ram; Singh,Amrik; Agrwaal, Ashok & Kaur, Jaskaran (2003). Reduced To Ashes: The Insurgency and Human Rights in Punjab. Kathamandu (Nepal): South Asia Forum for Human Rights. ISBN 99933-53-57-4.
- "Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India,", Human Rights Watch & Ensaaf Joint Report, October 18, 2007. pp. 29-30.
- "Who Killed the Sikhs". Journeyman Pictures. June 4, 2002. “a portion of this documentary can be viewed here”
- SBS Dateline. April 2002. “a portion of this episode on Punjab can be viewed here”
- Kumar, Ram; Singh,Amrik; Agrwaal, Ashok & Kaur, Jaskaran (2003). Reduced To Ashes: The Insurgency and Human Rights in Punjab. Kathamandu (Nepal): South Asia Forum for Human Rights. ISBN 99933-53-57-4 “Biography of Khalra, Chapter 1, Reduced to Ashes (pdf, 5 MB)” p.54.
- Video on YouTube
- "A mockery of justice: The case concerning the "disappearance" of human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra severely undermined". Amnesty International.
- "K.P.S. Gill visited Khalra in jail, says witness". The Tribune, Chandigarh, India. February 17, 2005.
- Meenakshi Ganguly. "Other Screams of Terror". Human Rights Watch.
- "Punjab Cops Convicted of 1995 Murder of Activist Khalra". Ensaaf.
- "Khalra murder case: HC grants life imprisonment to 4 cops - Chandigarh - City - NEWS - The Times of India". The Times of India. 2007-10-16. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News". Tribuneindia.com. 1995-09-06. Retrieved 2009-08-10.
- PDF Copy of the Decision “Judgement of the Supreme Court of India in C.A Nos. 523 of 2009”
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