Sardar Khalra was a Sikh human rights activist who was murdered in the
custody of the Punjab police.
Mr. Khalra was a Bank Director before getting into human rights in Amritsar.
His two colleagues disappeared. He found out by word of mouth that their
bodies were burned at Durgyana Mandar. He went to find out more information
there. The employees provided a register to Mr. Khalra, where he could check
to see if the name was there. Glancing over the register Mr. Khalra noticed
something that was a bit out of place. Besides finding the names of his two
colleagues, he found thousands of names of people that were said to be (Lawaras
or missing). The names had all sorts of information written next to them
such as fathers name, height, weight, age, hair colour and length, where
they lived, area where they were killed, how they died, addresses of their
homes and which police officer brought them in. They had to register these
names in order to get wood from the municipal corporation to burn the
bodies. This is where those that would want this information not to be known
overestimated themselves. They did not think that anyone would be able to
obtain the register with the thousands of names.
After viewing the register, Mr. Khalra cautiously made a photocopy of the
register. He then used an excuse to go to Pati and Tarn Taarn and made
photocopies of all those registers from there as well. Even though they had
all the information of the person, they still said the body's location was
unknown. After getting the copies of the register, Mr. Khalra realized that
if he showed the register to people in Punjab or the Punjab government that
he would run into a lot of trouble and his voice might be silenced very
quickly. It was because of this Mr. Khalra decided to publish the records
outside of India.
Mr. Khalra went to Canada in June and went back to Punjab July 27. There he
distributed the records to all the Gurudwaras along as well as to the
Parliament. He knew that when he went back to Punjab, he would be killed,
however, he decided that he would get the records out to as many people as
he could. He needed to tell the people how the Punjab police burned 15 to 20
bodies together and then threw the half burned bodies into the closest
It was after Mr. Khalra spoke up against the police that the public stopped
being afraid to speak. It was after Mr. Khalra spoke up that the police
started being afraid. Mrs. Khalra believes that the abductions and murders
of Sikh men stopped after the abduction of Mr. Khalra.
The Khalra family received a lot of support from Sikhs living abroad,
however, the support that they had thought they would receive from Mr. Badal
and the Sikhs from Punjab was non existent. Mrs. Khalra had thought that
they would receive support from Mr. Badal since he had mentioned this issue
in his speech when he was running for elections. However, when he was
approached about this issue, he told Mrs. Khalra to forget the whole thing.
He said that she had spent so much money already, that she had kids to raise
and to live her own life now.
She had to leave the job she had held as a librarian at a University and now
is unable to get another job even though she has applied many times.
However, she was told by the administration of Mr. Badal that she does not
have to work if she does not want to. If she stops pursuing the case they
will help her raise her children.
The case still continues today, and hopefully the government will realize
that if this happened in 3 towns that it is very possible that it was
happening in other cities in Punjab.