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Punjab-Human Rights Report-2006
by U.S. Department of State
Sikh Case-Indian Government is silent-Why?
Who will seek answer?

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices  - 2006
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

March 6, 2007

b. Disappearance

The government made little progress in holding hundreds of police and security officials accountable for serious human rights abuses committed during the Punjab counterinsurgency of 1984-94, despite the presence of a special investigatory commission. The CBI claimed to be pursuing charges against dozens of police officials implicated in the 1980s for hundreds of deaths and secret cremations. The NGO ENSAAF estimated that security forces extrajudicially killed and caused to disappear more than 10,000 Punjabi Sikhs and cremated 6,017 Sikhs in Amritsar alone in counter insurgency operations during the militancy.

In September Paramjit Kaur Khalra, the widow of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra, filed a legal petition calling for the investigation and prosecution of former police chief Gill for the abduction, illegal detention, torture, and murder of her husband. According to ENSAAF and other human rights organizations, in September 1995 members of the Punjab police operating under Gill's command abducted Khalra for investigating and exposing the "disappearances" and secret cremations of thousands of Sikhs in Punjab by security forces. Gill's subordinates illegally detained and tortured Khalra for nearly two months, before killing him in 1995.

The NHRC continued to investigate 2,097 cases of murder and cremation that occurred between 1984 and the early 1990s. The NHRC asked families whose members had disappeared to provide evidence and ordered compensation to approximately 100 families. The NHRC has not released its findings, and no significant progress was made in bringing to justice those responsible for the killings.

On May 15, the NHRC ordered the Punjab Government to disburse monetary compensation of $5,700 (Rs 250,000) each to the next of kin of 45 persons whom the state government admitted were in police custody immediately before they were killed and illegally cremated. In August 2005 the Nanavati commission, tasked with conducting a re-inquiry into the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, released its report, citing several prominent Congress Party leaders for complicity in the violence and implicated law enforcement personnel in the deaths, accusing them of refusing to perform their duty to maintain law and order. The government also set up two committees to disburse financial compensation promised by Prime Minister Singh to the victims' families. The government approved an extra $158 million (Rs Seven billion) in compensation: $7,800 (Rs 344,000) for every family member killed and $2,800 (Rs 124,000) for those injured.

One human rights activist and lawyer from the state of Punjab reported filing 4,000 disappearance cases. However, only 10 to 12 of these cases had been prosecuted. In July 2005 the NHRC directed the CBI to give the Punjab government access to documents regarding the illegal killing and cremation of 64 persons by the Punjab police during the insurgency. On April 3, NHRC Chairman A.S. Anand stated that the Punjab State Government identified 570 persons who had been cremated secretly. On May 15, the NHRC directed Punjab authorities to pay $5,500 (Rs 243,000) to the survivors of 45 victims.

There were credible reports that police throughout the country often failed to file legally required arrest reports, resulting in hundreds of unresolved disappearances in which relatives claimed that an individual was taken into police custody and never heard from again. Police usually denied these claims, pointing to the lack of an arrest record

Forwarded By Balbir Singh Sooch

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