On April 1st a special CBI court in India found 47 policemen guilty of killing 10 Sikh men in three fake encounters in a single night in the Pilibhit district of Uttar Pradesh in July 1991.
The ruling is further proof of assertions – made largely by Sikh activist organisations based in the West – that Sikhs in India have been systematically killed in masses by Indian government authorities. This issue has been at the heart of many demonstrations made against the Indian government by Sikhs both in India and abroad, with a belief that authorities have been protecting those involved and hiding information about the massacres.
America based Sikh activist organisation Ensaaf have uncovered evidence of unlawful killings in over 12,000 villages in Punjab to date, whilst there are still to this day regular allegations of fake encounters resulting in the deaths/disappearance of Sikhs all over India. For decades Sikhs have highlighted India’s callous approach to dealing with issues which affect the nation’s minorities; from the incarceration of political prisoners to the governing of agriculture, with the fake encounters massacre scandal being the most damning of the lot.
Below we have shared statements from Sikh organisations that have previously spoken out about the fake encounters massacre scandal.
Statement from humanitarian charity Sikh Relief who power SOPW (Sikh Organisation for Prisoner Welfare)
“Sikh Relief support many people whose entire families were killed during the murderous regime orchestrated by state officials between 1978 through to 1995. A common theme that has been recounted by all these families is that it was the very people who had a duty of care to protect its citizens from harm – the police – who were the ones committing the crimes. Where does one then hope to seek shelter and protection?
“Sikh Relief welcome this decision and hopes to see justice delivered, especially for all those families whose loved ones were brutally murdered and their reputations needlessly and falsely blemished with labels of ‘extremists’ and ‘terrorists’ to validate the killings.
“News of over 47 suspects is not surprising for many of us, who have known of the horrors that surrounded the 1984 Sikh genocide that saw tens of thousands of men, women and children murdered in cold blood. What makes this distressing fact worse is that their surviving relatives have watched as the perpetrators of these heinous crimes not only escape prosecution but have been promoted and placed inhigh positions across government establishments.”
Sukhvinder Kaur, Sikh Relief spokeswoman.
“While we welcome these prosecutions, the verdict also raises questions:
- Why has it taken 30 years for these cases to come to light?
- Will the surviving members of the families that were murdered by these 47 police officers be offered any form of compensation?
- Will other State governments follow suit and prosecute other prominent faces that were also known to be behind the genocide of 1984?
It is a positive step forward that police officers are being held to account, but we wait with baited breath to see whether others will finally be brought to justice.”
Balbir Singh, Sikh Relief chairman.
Statement from political organisation Sikh Federation (UK)
“Tens of thousands of Sikhs were killed in fake encounters in a period from the mid 1980s until the mid-1990s. The Pilibhit case with a conviction of 47 police officers for killing innocent Sikh pilgrims is the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of Sikhs have lost loved ones and have grown old or died waiting for justice. Police officers responsible for the extra-judicial killings have escaped justice for far too long.”
Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK).