At 19, She Lost Husband In Police Encounter. At 48, Punjab Cops Say Op Was Fake

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At 19, She Lost Husband In Police Encounter. At 48, Punjab Cops Say Op Was Fake

Dalbir Kaur said the legal battle was started by her mother-in-law.

Chandigarh:

Dalbir Kaur was just 19 years old, and two months pregnant, when police in Punjab allegedly killed her husband in a fake encounter and passed off his body as that of a terrorist in 1994.

The terrorist was found alive four years later but Ms Kaur and her mother-in-law had to fight a long and arduous legal battle that has finally, 29 years later, culminated in a special investigation team informing the high court that the encounter was stage-managed. A case has also been registered against a former inspector general and other police officials.

Sukhpal Singh was a resident of Kala Afghana village in Gurdaspur district, and Ms Kaur, who is now 48, says he was kidnapped by police officials in 1994 and then shot dead to claim the bounty on wanted terrorist Gurnam Singh Bandala. For Ms Kaur and her family, the ordeal was just beginning.

“My mother-in-law ran from pillar to post for justice. She was the one who started this legal fight. It took 29 years and an SIT has now finally said that the encounter was fake, but I have lost my mother-in-law and even my son along the way,” said Ms Kaur.

Ms Kaur’s daughter was just a year old when her father was killed and has almost no memories of him. “You can imagine what kind of a life I have had without a father. I was not told about him and I came to know what had happened only over time,” said Jeevanjyot Kaur.

Timeline

In 1994, a team of Punjab Police officials claimed to have killed Bandala. Sukhpal Singh’s family filed a case on July 29 that year, alleging that some police officials had kidnapped him and killed him in a fake encounter.

Bandala was caught alive in 1998. “My mother-in-law even met the terrorist Bandala in jail to ask him if he knew anything about where her son was, but got no information,” said Dalbir Kaur.

In 2007, 13 years after the encounter, an investigation was ordered under then Additional Director General of Police, JP Virdi, in 2007.

Virdi died in 2010, which led to a lull in the investigation. In 2013, Ms Kaur approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court for an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Responding to this demand, the Punjab Police set up another inquiry, which was to be headed by Additional Director General of Police IPS Sahota. Later that year, the police also constituted a special investigation team.

It took 10 more years but, on December 10, 2023, the SIT, led by Special DGP Gurpreet Kaur Deo, filed an affidavit in the high court stating that Sukhpal’s encounter was stage-managed and the initial police FIR (first information report) in the case was registered by falsifying the facts.

The court was also told that a fresh case for destruction and fabrication of evidence and under various other sections of the Indian Penal Code was registered in October against former Inspector General Paramraj Singh Umranangal, then deputy superintendent of police of Morinda, Jaspal Singh, and assistant sub-inspector Gurdev Singh (who is now dead).

Relentless Pursuit Of Justice

Senior Advocate Pradip Virk from the Punjab and Haryana High Court praised the family for relentlessly pursuing the case. “The credit goes to this family who pursued this case. Lawyers can only fight the case when the family does so. They have shown that if you pursue the case, then even God delivers justice.

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