Pilibhit verdict offers no solace to Gurdaspur victims’ families
Pilibhit fake encounter victim Harminder Minta’s widow Swaranjit Kaur (left) with members of her family at Sadkoha village in Gurdaspur district. A Tribune photo

Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Sadkoha (Gurdaspur), April 5

The CBI court’s verdict in the Pilibhit fake encounter case has failed to bring solace to two Sikh families from the twin villages of Sadkoha and Arjunpur in Gurdaspur district.“Of what use is the verdict now?” was the common refrain of both families as they came to know that 47 cops had been awarded life imprisonment.

The only silver lining is the pronouncement that each family will get Rs 14 lakh as compensation.Ajit Singh, father of Harminder Singh Minta of Sadkoha, said the judgment had come too late. “Minta was murdered after being labelled as a terrorist. My daughter-in-law, Swaranjit Kaur, was sent to jail for no fault of hers. My grand-daughter, Manpreet Kaur, has now completed her nursing diploma but she has no job.

The verdict serves little purpose for me and my family,” he said. Manpreet was born three months after her father was killed by cops in 1991.Two km away, in Arjunpur village, things are no different for the family of brothers Baljit Singh and Jaswant Singh Jassa, who were both murdered. After the incident, their brother, Nishan Singh, rushed to Pilibhit with his wife, Surinder Kaur, to locate his ‘missing’ siblings.

However, the cops picked up Nishan Singh, a lineman with the erstwhile Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), and murdered him. Charges under TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention) Act were slapped against Surinder and she was sent to an Uttar Pradesh jail, from where she was released on bail after three years.“The accused should have been given death penalty.I have lost everything. Had the guilty been punished weeks, or even months, after the bloodshed, I would have believed that justice had been delivered. But, now, after 25 years, I feel that it has been a miscarriage of justice,” Surinder said.

Keep convicts behind bars till death: Takht

Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh welcomed the life sentence awarded to guilty police officials in the Pilibhit case, but hastened to add that they should be kept behind bars till death. “This verdict came after 25 years. The culprits of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots should also be awarded the same rigorous punishment so that the victims’ kin get justice,” he added.