Gurpreet Singh, Fatehgarh Sahib
On the orders of the Punjab and Haryana
High Court, Fatehgarh Sahib police has registered a case against a
police party that allegedly killed a youth, Satnam Singh, a resident of
village Mohadian in a fake encounter on August 9, 1988.
Justice S.K. Mittal directed Fatehgarh Sahib SSP to register a criminal
case for the alleged offence and to hand over the investigation of the
case to an officer at a rank higher than that of IPS officer. The court
also directed the State to pay Rs 1.50 lakh as interim compensation to
the petitioner Prem Singh, Satnam’s father, within a period of three
months. The court stated: "It is made clear that is will be open for the
State of Punjab to recover the said amount of compensation from the
guilty police officials."
The court also observed that the since the matter pertained to the year
1988, the investigation should be completed expeditiously.
After receiving the court judgment, Fatehgarh Sahib SSP sent an official
note along with the court judgment to the District Attorney (DA) to seek
his opinion. The DA opined that the SSP should comply with the court
order and register a fresh case against all the accused. He also advised
that the compensation be paid to the concerned party within the
stipulated period. A case was subsequently registered against the police
party, including the then Sirhind CIA in charge, Inspector Sher Singh
(now retired), and ASI Harbans Singh. However, the current Fatehgarh
Sahib SSP Varinder Kumar was, himself, investigating the case.
When Prem Singh, Satnam Singh’s father, first sent a letter to the
Supreme Court in April 12, 1995; the apex court treated the letter as
writ petition under article 32 of the Constitution of India and disposed
of it on December, 1, 1995 after passing the orders that the matter
under Article 226 of the Constitution be transferred to Punjab and
Haryana High Court for a hearing. Thereupon the matter was registered by
the High Court and notice was issued to the State.
In its reply filed by the police it was alleged that the deceased,
Satnam Singh, was a terrorist and more than seven cases were registered
and pending against him. It was stated by the police that Satnam Singh
was not arrested on August 8,1988 by Sirhind police and, in fact, he was
killed in an encounter on August 9, 1988 on G.T. Road near village
Madhopur. In this regard, an FIR was registered on August 9, 1988 under
sections 307,34 of the IPC and 25 Arms Act, 3/4 TADA(P) at the Sirhind
police station. As per the police, after conducting the post mortem
examination of Satnam Singh's body, it was handed over to his father,
Prem Singh, at which time neither Prem Singh nor any other person raised
any objection about the death.
On September 19, 1996, the High Court, after hearing counsel for the
parties and considering the replies filed by the State, directed the
senior most Additional Session Judge, Fatehgarh Sahib, to make an
inquiry into the allegations contained in the complaint and the reply
filed by the opposite party, and to submit his report within six months.
In compliance to the order, the Judge held an inquiry in which he came
to the conclusion that Satnam Singh was killed on August 9, 1988 in an
encounter on GT Road with the police on one side and Satnam Singh and
others on the other side. Both sides participated, and it was not a fake
On April 24, 2001, the matter was again argued by the High Court, and
after hearing both the parties, the court again remanded the matter to
District and Session Judge, Fatehgarh Sahib, for further inquiry. He was
directed to give a definitive finding as to whether Satnam Singh died of
being shot at close range. In compliance to the order, the Judge
submitted his report on August 5, 2002. Referencing details from the
post mortem report, the judge concluded that Satnam Singh died of a shot
fired at a very close range. This was also the testimony of Surjit Kaur,
mother of the deceased, who was a witness to the fake encounter and
murder of her son more than seventeen years ago.
After receiving the report from District and Session Judge, Fatehgarh
Sahib, the high court sent a notice to all persons who, as per the
contents of FIR dated August 9, 1988, took part in the operation in
which Satnam Singh was killed. Thereupon some of the police officials
who were present in the encounter filed a reply in the shape of
objections, but lawyer Navkiran Singh, who was appointed as amicus,
curried in this case. He submitted before the high court that the stand
taken by the police in the FIR was supported neither by medical evidence
nor by the Fatehgarh Sahib court report. Navkiran Singh claimed that
guilt was established from the postmortem report as well as the second
inquiry conducted by District and Session Judge, Fatehgarh Sahib, that
Satnam Singh was killed by a gun/pistol shot fired at very close range.
The High Court judge mentioned in his judgment that the allegations of
the petitioner on the killing of his son in a fake encounter be
investigated after the case was registered. He directed the Fatehgarh
Sahib SSP to register a criminal case for the alleged offence and to
hand over the investigation of the case to an officer higher than the
rank of IPS officer.
Satnam Singh's Mother: “Truth Has Preailed At Last”
Commenting on the High Court’s orders to register a criminal case
against certain police officers, seventy-year-old Surjit Kaur, mother of
Satnam Singh, said that truth has prevailed at last after 17 years. She
had always said that her son was innocent, and killed by the police in a
fake encounter. She told SikhNN that her son studied up to seventh grade
at Mata Gujri Senior Secondary School, Fatehgarh Sahib, and later took
training from a Khanna-based doctor. Satnam started his first clinic at
village Panjkoha and later moved to village Hira of district Ludhiana.
Surjit Kaur maintained that the police would harass her and other family
members. She said she was first picked up by Kurukhestra police and then
handed over to Sirhind police as they wanted to know the whereabouts of
Satnam Singh, but she knew nothing. She said the police tortured her for
two months and electrocuted her and her husband. She alleged that the
police even forced her to name other youths in militant, but she did not
name anyone. She said she could name innocent persons. Kaur further said
that the police destroyed her home and took her four cattle.
Satnam Singh ran away from home in fear of the police. The police were
regularly torturing the family to find his whereabouts. Satnam Singh
moved his clinic from village Panjkoha to Hira, the police turned their
attention to torturing his family and his in-laws. Finally, after
torturing Satnam’s mother-in-law, she told the police his whereabouts.
The police picked him up while he was sleeping.
After Satnam Singh’s killing, his family approached Simranjit Singh of
Shiromani Akali Dal who helped the family at first. But later, he
requested the family to withdraw case for money. The family said they
did not want money but justice.
Surjit Kaur said that initially her husband pursued the case, but his
whereabouts had been unknown for last six years. Prem Singh regularly
visited Gurdwara Jyoti Swaroop to pay obeisance and one day he had gone
to pay obeisance but never returned. She suspected that because Prem
Singh was pursuing the case, the police might have killed him. Kaur said
police tortured Prem Singh so much that he sometimes lost his balance.
After Prem Singh’s disappearance, she pursued the case in the courts
It was very difficult for Kaur to pursue the case, as the family had no
money. She receives Rs 200 every six months as old age pension from the
state government. Kaur said the family was not in any condition to bear
the bus fare to reach her lawyer Navkiran Singh in Chandigarh. She was
grateful to Singh who contested her case pro bono. She said that several
times Navkiran Singh gave money from his own pocket for her to return to
her village. Surjit Kaur’s home is in a dilapidated condition and she
lives in fear.
Satnam Singh was married to Baljit Kaur, they had two children. After
Satnam’s death, Baljit refused to re-marry. She lives with her children,
her father and brothers in Ludhiana. Over the past seventeen years, she
visited her in-laws’ house once.