8,257 missing because of illegal killings during Punjab militancy days: Civil rights group
The civil rights group claimed that 8,257 people are missing because of “illegal killings” during the militancy period in Punjab.
Ahead of filing a petition in the Supreme Court, the Punjab Advocacy and Documentation Project (PADP) on Saturday released a report after a “seven-year investigation into mass killings and disappearances in Punjab in the 1980s and 1990s”. The civil rights group claimed that 8,257 people are missing because of “illegal killings” during the militancy period in Punjab.
Satnam Singh Bains, lawyer with the PADP, said, “The report exposes the systematic killings by police and security services during the period of militancy and counter-insurgency. It mandates an independent judicial inquiry into the 8,257 cases in line with constitutional guarantees and international human rights, so as to uncover the truth and ensure that there is no repetition of mass state crimes.”
He explained that the report follows an “Independent People’s Tribunal held for two days in Amritsar in April, in which a composite panel from judiciary, lawyers and activists from across India came together to hear the testimonies of 700 victim families”.
It comprised AK Ganguly, retired Supreme Court judge; Colin Gonsalves, senior advocate of the SC; and Paramjit Kaur Khalra of Khalra Mission Organisation.
“Our report critically considers the ongoing failings by the National Human Rights Commission in Punjab’s mass cremations’ case based on work done by murdered activist Jaswant Singh Khalra in 1995, who first exposed the mass killings. We have discovered that thousands of victims submitted their cases with the NHRC and its various sub-committees for consideration. Despite 1,527 victims being identified, the commission continues in its refusal to investigate even a single case to determine the cause of death and whether they were killed in fake encounters,” said justice H Suresh (retd), formerly of the Bombay high court.
PADP representatives said they have prepared a report on the missing persons with full names, and a petition is being prepared to be filed in the SC.