The Punjab Police

From the late 1980’s to early 2000’s a plethora of reports from regional and international human rights organizations emerged concerning the escalating insurgency and severity of human rights violations taking place in Punjab. The 2000’s saw entrenched criticism of the functioning of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the judiciary to investigation and adjudicate on cases mass state violence. Much has been written on the lawlessness and the impunity in which the Punjab police operated and the use of covert “death squads”. Their notoriety occupies a dedicated chapter in the book “Death Squads in Global Perspective A Comparative Analysis of Death Squads Across the World”. Death Squads are defined as:

 “clandestine and usually irregular organizations, often paramilitary in nature, which carry out extra-judicial executions and other acts (torture, rape, arson, bombing, etc.) against clearly defined individuals or groups of people”.


The international infamy of the Punjab Police during this period has been compared with police paramilitary groups such as the Schwarze Reichswehr death squad in Germany in 1920s, the Esquadrao Motorizada, the Brazilian police death squad in the 1950s, the State Research Bureau in the 1970s in Uganda, the National Guard in El Salvador, the Alsa Masa of the Philippines and the Serbian paramilitaries in Bosnia in the early 1990s.