In a historical verdict, a special CBI Court has convicted 47 policemen, who were found guilty of cold-bloodedly killing ten Sikh men in fake encounters on the night of 12th July, 1991 in Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh. The justice was finally served after a quarter of century on April 4. The charge sheet contained names of total of 57 policemen, out of which 10 have breathed their last during the course of the long arduous trial.20 of the guilty men who appeared before the court were taken into custody on April 1 after the conviction, while non-bailable warrants were issued against the 27 others. After examining 67 prosecution witnesses, the Special Judge Lallu Singh accused the guilty cops involved in three fake encounters under sections 302, 364, 365, 218 and 117 read with 120B of the IPC. On July 12, 1991, a police team that had received intimation on the existence of several young Sikh terrorists in the region, stopped a luxury bus at Kachlapul ghat. A Local Hindu daily had published a report stating the unconfirmed entry into the region of criminals who were posing as pilgrims along with their families. The police team dragged 11 Sikh men out of the halted bus even though the bus had obtained a temporary permit from the regional transport office at Bareilly. The men were put in a minivan while the women and children were taken to the Pilibhit Gurudwara. The men were divided into three groups- two with four members and the other one with two of the remaining members- and taken to three different places. They were shot down in three separate alleged encounters in Bilsnada, Niuria and Pooranpur regions of Pilibhit. The policemen asserted that the Sikh men were Khalistani terrorists who had fired on the cops. They also falsely claimed that they had recovered arms and ammunition from the travelling group.. Much later, a lawyer, RS Sodhi, filed a PIL in the Supreme Court with regard to this incident and the SC handed the case over to the CBI. After an extensive probe, the CBI uncovered that the fake encounter involved police from different stations. The charge sheet was filed on June 12, 1995.Ten bodies of the victims were recovered and cremated by the CBI while the 11th body was missing.The CBI investigation also revealed that the actual reason for the unfortunate incident in 1991 was the lure of rewards for policemen who helped capture terrorists. In order to obtain recognition and rewards, the policemen indulged in killing 11 innocents. The CBI court sentenced the 47 convicts to life imprisonment on April 4. The CBI court has also announced a compensation of Rs.14 lakh to the families of the 11 victims which garnered protests from relatives of the convicts.
The Logical Indian hopes that all the other convicts of the fake encounters are found and justice served to those who have been waiting for 25 years. We believe CBI Court has done a commendable job for arriving at an unbiased verdict that stood for the victims of an unfortunate incident. Many other encounters await justice. 7th April 2016 will mark one year of the fake encounter of 20 Tamil men killed in Seshachalam forest by the Red Sanders Special Task Force. One year later the SIT being monitored by the Andhra Pradesh High Court is yet to file a chargesheet. Delay in these cases is never incidental or accidental.