When law-enforcers turned rogue

When law-enforcers turned rogue

The conviction of 47 police personnel by a special CBI court in Lucknow for killing 10 Sikh pilgrims in Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh, in a fake encounter in 1991 stands out for many reasons. A busload of pilgrims travelling from Gurdaspur in Punjab were stopped by the police personnel, 11 men were taken away to a forest and shot dead. It was passed off as an encounter with Sikh terrorists. One body was never recovered. Back then, Punjab was reeling under Khalistani terrorism. There was a suspicion that terrorists were active in the area. The Pilibhit police used it as a pretext to kill so many people in cold blood. These were similar to the indiscriminate killings being carried out by Khalistani terrorists. It was a case of law-enforcement personnel imitating the style and culture of law-breakers. This is a psychological and behavioural trap which law-enforcers should take care to avoid.

In fake encounters, it is usually persons accused of crimes or suspects who are killed by the police. In the Pilibhit case, it was innocent people picked up at random who were done to death. There are not many cases like this, except a few where armed forces personnel have killed people and claimed rewards for killing militants. The massacre, committed for no reason, showed how callous and inhuman men in uniform could be, killing people for their sport. Shamefully, a judicial commission appointed by the UP government exonerated all the police men and even said that they deserved commendation. It was the CBI, which investigated the case at the behest of the Supreme Court, that found out the truth and charge-sheeted the police personnel. Out of 57 police personnel charged by the agency, 10 died during the investigation and trial, and others have been punished with life imprisonment. It is rare that so many police personnel are convicted in a single case. It should serve as a warning to the men in the uniformed forces who think nothing of taking the law into their hands and killing or maiming people.
The killings were planned and coordinated at different levels, because the personnel were drawn from different police stations. This would not have been possible without the involvement of officers at higher levels. But no high-level officer was charge-sheeted, and even the court has found this strange. The case typically dragged on for 25 years through investigation and trial, but the consolation is that it ensured some justice was done, though it is not full and total.
DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)