WSO Calls for Inquiry Into Punjab Human Rights Abuses

Ottawa (May 26, 2017):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada calls for a full commission of inquiry into human rights abuses that took place in Punjab in the 80s and 90s. 

The death today, of KPS Gill, former Director General of the Punjab Police during the 80s and 90s marks the loss of an opportunity to pursue justice and accountability for the thousands of victims of police and state atrocities in Punjab.  Gill lead a campaign of state violence designed to crush militancy and dissent in Punjab in the early-1990s and was colloquially known by many as the “Butcher of the Punjab”.  Under his command, the Punjab Police and Indian security forces engaged in widespread abuses and operated with impunity.  He was implicated in the extrajudicial murders of several prominent activists, including human rights advocate Jaswant Singh Khalra.

The death of Gill was preceded earlier this month by a shocking revelation by current Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who tweeted:  “I felt betrayed by then PM Chandra Shekhar after 21 Khalistani militants I arranged to surrender were killed.”

Similarly, several prominent Punjab Police officers including Inspector Gurmeet Singh “Pinky”, former DGP S.S. Virk and sub-inspector (SI) Surjit Singh have come forward with shocking admissions of torture, fake encounters and illegal cremations of bodies, naming several senior police officials.  None of these allegations have been investigated. 

India’s National Human Rights Commission in 2012 ordered Rs.27.94 crore as monetary relief to families of 1,513 innocent people, extra-judicially killed while in Punjab police custody and illegally cremated.  No further investigation has taken place. 

WSO President Mukhbir Singh said today, “human rights abuses in Punjab during the 80s and 90s have not been adequately investigated or addressed.  KPS Gill was accused of perpetrating shocking human rights abuses, including the murder of Jaswant Singh Khalra.  His death means that we will likely never know the full extent of his involvement in these crimes.  Further, the revelation by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh with respect to the murder of 21 alleged 'militants' in 1990 is also cause for great concern.  We believe it is essential that a commission of inquiry be established to investigate the abuses that occurred throughout Punjab. Police and administrative officials, guilty of such serious crimes against humanity must be held accountable.  Healing is impossible without accountability and justice."

The World Sikh Organization of Canada is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.

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