Today marks the 17th anniversary of the disappearance of S. Jaswant Singh Khalra.
In a handwritten press note dated February 25, 1995, S. Khalra had predicted his 'disappearance' at the hands of the Punjab Police (before his visits to Canada). He had learned that his abduction had been approved by the Congress government in power at the time. The press note shows S. Khalra's bravery and spirit of sacrifice.
Earlier, when S. Jaswant Singh’s research had uncovered the illegal murder and cremation of thousands of young Sikhs by the Punjab Police, the Superintendant of Police from Tarn Taran, Ajit Sandhu had said “if 25,000 have disappeared, it will be easy to make one more disappear too.”
Ajit Sandhu and the Punjab Police made good on their threats.
From his abduction on September 6, 1995 until his eventual murder on October 27, 1995, S. Khalra endured unspeakable torture and abuse.
For more information about S. Khalra please see here. WSO and the HRLN launched the Khalra Centre for Human Rights Defenders last year to honour the legacy of S. Khalra's work.
A translation of S. Khalra's press note is below:
Ajnala, February 23 1995:
If the Government of Punjab and Police believe that by killing me and making my body disappear they can cover up the matter relating to the mass disappearances of the 25,000 so called unclaimed and unidentified bodies then they are deceived because the facts relating to this matter have been disclosed to various Human Rights Organizations throughout the world and yesterday (February 22) the Chairman of the Human Rights Organization, Jaspal Singh Dhillon left for Manila, Philippines, to obtain international support and to participate in the World Human Rights Conference.
Just two days ago a responsible M.L.A. from the Congress party personally informed me that the Police officials are very upset on the exposure of this matter and they have decided that if this investigation proceeds further they will make Jaswant Singh Khlara's body disappear and where there will be an investigation of 25,000 cases they can afford one more. This M.L.A. (I don't believe it is appropriate for me to disclose his name today) also told me that the Police have already obtained approval from the ruling Congress party to make me disappear. We had our suspicions and those have proven to be true but to save my life, instead of going to any Court, I will prefer to go to the feet of God and to the doors of the people. I would like to appeal to all democracy loving people that if I am killed then the two persons to hold accountable and responsible would be the Chief Minister Beant Singh and Police Chief (KPS Gill) and not some station head or police cat.
What amazes me is that by totally defying the law and justice, the Government has once again appointed as Chief of Taran Tarn Police an Officer who is soon to be proven guilty of illegally killing more than one thousand innocent people. This Police Officer has an ongoing legal investigation (Baba Charan Singh case) and furthermore C.B.I. is also investigating a number of cases against him. Continuing his tactics of terrorizing and threatening the witnesses of pending legal cases against him, this Police Officer abducted Rajwinder Singh, son of Mahinder Kaur, on 21 February and sent a clear message that he can directly deal with the complaints filed against the Police himself.
The role played by CBI in investigation of the cases against Police terror is also suspicious because these days instead of investigating the offenders its main task seems to be investigating the complainants. CBI officials have themselves acknowledged that first they will satisfy themselves with the fact that the complainants are not against the Police. By doing so CBI is now working for Police instead of doing the task handed to them by the High Court. The CBI has mishandled the case of Mahinder Kaur in such a way that has resulted in endangerment to the lives of at least 13 people. As General Secretary of the Human Rights Organization, I request that the dozens of petitions against SSP of Taran Tarn Police be directly investigated under the supervision of a High Court Judge and special court should be set up in Taran Tarn to expedite the cases against the Police officials. The investigation into the unclaimed and unidentified bodies should be done by the judicial system and not by the Police. Furthermore, the investigation should start by removing all the Police officials who were involved in the illegal disposal of the unclaimed and unidentified bodies.
I want to make it very clear to the Punjab Government and Punjab Police that we have all the evidence, including signatures of the involved Police officers, that link them to the mass disappearances of unidentified bodies and we are fully prepared to present this evidence to the legal courts. I would like to appeal to the Police officers, who are eager to take my life, that I am doing this work not as a profession or due to any hatred against Police but for the humanity and according to the instruction of Gurmat (Sikh faith).
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