KPS Gill

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KPS Gill Should Be Tried For Genocide In World Court - Says Widow Of Murdered Sikh Activist-J.S.Khalra

By R. Paul Dhillon


KPS Gill

Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, began his career as a police officer in the north-eastern state of Assam, quickly earning a reputation as a tough officer. He became a household name across the country as Punjab police chief in the early 1990s, when he was credited with crushing a separatist revolt and addressing Sikh Militancy in the Sikh-majority state, for doing so, he earned the sobriquet of a "supercop".[1] He is also known as a convicted sexual offender because of his conviction in a sexual crime by several courts of India [2] [3]. [4].

Gill publishes the Faultlines journal and runs the Institute for Conflict Management, as well as advising governments and institutions on security related issues. He was asked by the government of Sri Lanka last year for similar advice. Mr Gill has also written a book, "The Knights of Falsehood", which explores the abuse of religious institutions by the politics of freedom struggle in Punjab.

He got involved in sports administration after retirement and is currently the IHF ( Indian Hockey Federation) president.

He has also been appointed as a consultant by the Chattisgarh government to help tackle the Naxalite movement in the state.

KPS Gill's Counter-Terrorism Techniques in Punjab

There were serious charges levelled against him and his police by human rights activists that thousands of suspects were killed in staged shootouts and thousands of bodies were cremated/disposed without proper identification or post-mortem.[5][6] [7] [8] [9]. Police under his commnad used in-human torture techniques to extract information from Sikh Militants and in their killings, Gurdev Singh 'Debu' an area commander of Khalistan Commando Force, was boiled alive by his police[10]. Even Khushwant Singh is said to have gone volte-face after reading the research Reduced to Ashes Book by a human rights group[11] [12] and remarked "It is spine-chilling.... Well, Mr Gill, it is not rubbish; you and the Punjab police have quite a few awkward questions to answer"[11].

Several number of Sikh women - teenage girls to old women, were gangraped and molested by Indian security forces during house to house searches. Looting of the villagers’ property and ransacking of the entire villages also happened during his reign. [13][14]

Jaswant Singh Khalra

SURREY - The widow of murdered Punjab-based human rights activist Jaswant singh khalra said former Punjab Director General of Police K.P.S. Gill, also known as the "Butcher of Punjab" should be tried as a war criminal for genocide of Sikhs in a world court for massive killings that occurred in Punjab under his command and that of the central government of India.

Paramjit Kaur Khalra - who has been leading the fight for justice following the kidnapping and murder of her husband in September 1995 - told a media gathering in Surrey that she thinks the only way the victims - which number well above 25,000 people - can get justice is if criminal cops like Gill and others are tried in a world court like other war criminals from Europe, Africa and Central America.

Khalra's widow is on her first Canadian trip to bring awareness to her plight and the plight of thousands of families of victims who are still awaiting justice for the random killings of young children as young as six months, men, and women.

Her organization in Punjab has been compiling data on the victims for the past decade, a work which was started by her husband. So far they have identified 2100 people dead from just three cremation centers - from which the government has already accepted blame for 109 - but she says thousands more are unaccounted for and continue to remain victims without justice.

Paramjit Khalra made it clear that she is not here to seek funds but assistance in the fight - which includes lobbying western governments and the United Nations to order a trial for the crimes.

Earlier she was in Toronto - where Liberal MP Colleen Beaumier took up her case with the Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to ensure an impartial investigation into Khalra's case, following reports that the prosecution lawyer in the case was being threatened by Punjab police officers.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, copies of which were sent to the Indian High Commissioner in Ottawa, the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the CBI, and all the Canadian members of Parliament, Beaumier expressed deep concern over the "harassment and threats" against Brijender Singh Sodhi, the prosecution lawyer in the Khalra case.

"I am very disturbed by reports from witnesses that Sodhi was approached by a police officer while entering the court and threatened with bodily harm and ultimately his life. These are very serious allegations," said the Brampton West MP in her recent letter, terming the attempted intimidation of a lawyer investigating the Khalra case "profoundly troubling".

"I understand that the investigation into Khalra's 1995 disappearance involves members of the Punjab police force. I ask you to ensure this investigation is impartial and, if members of the police are found to be implicated in this case, that they be held accountable for their actions and pursued by the judicial system to the full extent of the law," said the MP, further asking that full protection be granted to Mr Sodhi, all the members of the investigative team and all accompanying human rights organisations that may be involved.

Khalra's case has been called the travesty of justice in India - the country that calls itself a democracy.

Amnesty International's report INDIA - A mockery of justice: The case concerning the "disappearance" of human rights defender Jaswant singh khalra severely undermined, details the organization's concerns at allegations that accused police officers have attempted to suppress evidence through intimidation of witnesses and those campaigning for justice and expresses fears that attempts are being made to prevent further investigations and deny justice.

"On the eve of the next hearing in the case -- 28 April at the Special Court of the Central Bureau of Investigation in Patiala, Punjab -- Amnesty International is calling for immediate investigations into the allegations of intimidation and harassment, followed by prompt action against officials. The organization is also calling for the protection of witnesses and the suspension of police officials accused of involvement in Khalra's disappearance."

India was a member state of the 54th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights which, in March this year, adopted by consensus the draft UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms, providing for the protection of the activities of human rights defenders. Amnesty International's report calls on the Indian government to give a powerful signal that human rights defenders in India will be given full protection to continue their invaluable work.

Jaswant Singh Khalra

Jaswant singh khalra is one of the human rights defenders featured in Amnesty International's campaign to promote the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Recent testimony also highlighted the role of top police officials like KPS Gill in the Khalra case. The sole witness who claims to have witnessed the murder of the activist, alleging that he had seen former Punjab Police Director-General of Police Gill go into a room in which Khalra was being kept at Manawala in Taran Tarn.

The witness, Kuldeep Singh, is a former Special Police Officer who claims he was recruited into the police by former Taran Tarn Senior Superintendent of Police Ajit Singh Sandhu. He told the court of the Additional Sessions Judge here that it was Sandhu's house in Manawala village in Taran Tarn, which was visited by K.P.S. Gill and other "clean shaven official" a few days before Khalra was murdered in 1995.

The witness after stepping out of the court said he was happy he had finally been able to tell the truth. He said during his deposition that he was taken to the residence of the Taran Tarn, SSP, by Jhabal Police Station SHO Satnam Singh who was keeping Khalra locked in illegal confinement. He further alleged that K.P.S. Gill remained in the room where Khalra was being kept for half an hour adding that during the journey back to the Jhabal police station, SHO Satnam Singh told Khalra that he would have saved himself if he had listened to the "advice" of the DGP.

Giving a lengthy deposition, the former SPO said he came into contact with Ajit Singh Sandhu, who was a prime accused in the Khalra disappearance case before he committed suicide in 1994. He said when Sandhu was posted to Taran Tarn in 1995 he accompanied him as a gun man. Sandhu's suicide was questionable sources say it was a police hit made to look like a suicide with a one line explaining Sandhu's actions.

The True Legacy of KPS Gill

Hartosh Bal is a prominent journalist and political editor of the Caravan magazine which prides itself as being a “David amongst Goliaths” print outlet. They boldly state on their main page that they “investigate powerful people, uncover scams, hold governments to account and report hard facts on conflicts and crises, all because “we are independent of any outside interests.” The Caravan recently became the first news organisation from India to win the Louis M Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism, set up by the Nieman Fellows at Harvard University, “in recognition of its unique and uncompromising coverage of the erosion of human rights, social justice, and democracy in India”.

As a journalist, Hartosh Bal also has a reputation for integrity when holding Modi’s Government to account for his authoritarian hyper-nationalist leadership and his proximity to the RSS and its fascist Hindutva project. Bal was even fired from a previous position due to his work creating political “enemies”.

It is therefore disturbing and disappointing to read that when it comes to the Khalistan Sangarsh (struggle), and in particular the ‘Butcher of Panjab’, KPS Gill, Bal starkly contradicts his image as a bold advocate for human rights and accountability, and instead obscures mass human rights violations to protect the image of his own uncle. This article will bring Bal’s unsavoury journalism into focus and demonstrate why they undermine the reputation Bal has built.

kps gill .jpg Hartosh Bal and the Butcher of Punjab

Kanwar Pal Singh Gill held the highest ranking police post in an Indian state as the Director General of Police (DGP) in Punjab from 1988 till 1995. He was brought in specifically to violently crush militant Sikh resistance that the Indian state deemed a terrorist insurrection. Sikhs fought an armed conflict with the Indian state principally between 1984 and 1995. The ‘Punjab insurgency’ as it has come to be known, was a decade long civil war with Sikh insurgents declaring their ultimate goal as the separation of East Punjab from India and to form a sovereign ‘Khalistan’.

“Operation Rakshak ("Protector") II, the counterinsurgency operation that ultimately crushed most of the militant groups by mid-1993, represented the most extreme example of a policy in which the end appeared to justify any and all means, including torture and murder. It was a policy that had been long advocated by senior police officials, in particular Director General of Police K.P.S. Gill, who has had overall authority for counterinsurgency operations. The goal of Operation Rakshak II was to eliminate, not merely arrest, the militant Sikh leadership. Gill also expanded a bounty system of rewards for police who killed known militants -- a practice that encouraged the police to resort to extrajudicial executions and disappearances.”

Dead Silence: The Legacy of Human Rights Abuses in Punjab. Human Rights Watch, Asia Staff, Patricia Gossman, 1994

While we are used to Indian nationalists, particularly those on the ‘Right wing’, praising KPS Gill for his murderous counter-insurgency methods, it is unheard of for a political editor of a magazine that prides itself on speaking truth to power, “uncompromising” on human rights, to staunchly defend Gill’s methods as “strategic brilliance”. Although Bal accepts that he could never be unbiased towards Gill because Gill is his ‘mama’, or maternal uncle, the fact that Bal celebrates this controversial former ‘Director General of Police’ as a hero should be troubling for those standing against mass atrocities which underpin state oppression.

To my knowledge during his time at the Caravan, Bal has never mentioned his personal connection and opinion regarding KPS Gill in any of his pieces. This is peculiar given Bal writes regularly about Panjab and its politics.

On the event of KPS Gill’s demise on 26 May 2017, Bal was perhaps compelled, to take a more public stance leading the eulogies at Gill’s memorial, and in a written piece published by Scroll (interestingly not through the Caravan), in which he made a concerted effort to try and paint a picture of his uncle as a defender of democracy.

“Liberal democracy survives in Panjab today because kps ensures that it does”.

Bal’s article rearticulates the state sanctioned violence of Gill by once again silencing the thousands who suffered at the hands of Gill. There are two main troubling themes throughout the piece by Bal in Scroll. One is an acknowledged bias toward Gill that develops into whitewash, with a cast iron refusal to voice the opposing and overwhelmingly comprehensive arguments against him, and the second is the violence towards Sikhs by erasing Sikh voices. In particular those that support the secession of Khalistan have their humanity and their agency stripped away from them, as not being able “to think for themselves”.

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics, the Doubtfulness of ‘Data’

Bal’s argument centres on the idea that KPS Gill is “largely misunderstood”. Bal claims that the “brutal” moniker is undeserved, and that such allegations could be “endlessly debated with words” but Bal would rather “stay with the numbers”. In doing so, he attempts to swiftly take the reader away from the thousands of victims of State oppression, immediately, and just as violently, silence their voices. Bal pleads that we give credit based on the overall situation in the state, not from “isolated incidents or anecdotal reportage”. The “isolated incidents" he hints to, are the closest he comes to acknowledging mass human rights violations, torture, custodial rape, and summary executions of thousands of Sikhs under Gill’s supervision.

Quoting data from the Institute for Conflict Management, Bal says that during Gill’s stints as DGP there was an overall decline in “killings” (police murder), compared to Gill’s predecessor and successor. However Bal fails to mention that the institute he quotes from consists of a handful of people, and was founded and headed until his death, by none other than KPS Gill himself, while the current executive director is Ajai Sahni—KPS Gill’s son in law.

It is astonishing that as a veteran journalist, Bal does not, at the least, find it a conflict of interest to quote Gill himself on statistics of deaths during the State’s counter-insurgency violence, especially, when the main charge against Gill is that under his direction his officers abducted and killed thousands of Sikhs, and then disposed of the bodies secretly as “unidentified”. Surely Gill’s claims about how many people died and the distinction between civilian and militant, is questionable and cannot be relied upon.

Bal then ignores all the opinions including national and international human rights organisations such as Ensaaf, Human Rights Watch (HRW), REDRESS, and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, who in May 2006, issued a call to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the investigation and prosecution of former police chief KPS Gill for torture and murder charges. Instead, he quotes Gill’s own articles in which Gill paints himself as police officer extraordinaire.

Hiding Systemic Injustices and Overlooking Sikh Shaheeds

Bal eventually moves on to deal the work of Jaswant Singh Khalra and the thousands of Sikhs who were abducted and killed by Indian security forces. The claim that KPS Gill enacted systemic violence against Sikhs dogged Gill for his whole career and following retirement, the remainder of his life. Indeed it can be argued that Gill’s actual legacy is in the failure of his spectacular campaign of inhuman repression that sought to dehumanise and erase the Sikh liberation struggle for Khalistan, which remains a potent challenge to the political integrity of india.

Inexplicably, instead of challenging Gill’s bold claims that “false encounters” (the police murder of suspected militants and sympathisers) did not take place*, Bal interrogates the 25,000 figure of disappearances often quoted by human rights groups, a figure which was extrapolated following the findings at three crematoriums in Amritsar, Majitha and Tarn Taran. Bal in defence of KPS Gill, claims that this is inaccurate because different parts of Panjab experienced different levels of violence, and hence it was not accurate to use figures at 3 crematoriums to calculate all the “disappearances” in Panjab.

Leaving these failures aside for a moment and the fact that Bal has yet to condemn the findings (that at the very least, 2059 Sikhs were murdered and cremated as “unidentified corpses”), the more objectionable omission is the refusal to mention Shaheed Bhai Jaswant Singh Khalra. It appears the reason why Bal prefers to present and argue numbers, is that when faced with real examples, the sordid truth about his uncle comes to the surface.

Jaswant Singh Khalra was a human rights activist who upon chasing up leads about missing Sikhs, discovered the grisly secret of how Indian security forces were murdering and disposing thousands of Sikhs ‘unofficially’. It was Khalra who made the discovery at the 3 crematoriums.

Continuing in bias, rather than question why the State at this point did not call for an immediate investigation into the discovery of thousands of murdered and illegally cremated bodies, Bal proceeds to question the veracity of these figures, and why a small sample was used to generate an estimate. This gives the false impression that the larger figure of 25,000 across Panjab is a “fabrication”. Bal misleads the reader, as he knows full well, that the reason a full investigation was not possible across Panjab, was that KPS Gill ordered and personally oversaw the abduction, torture and murder of Jaswant Singh Khalra. Khalra had announced during a press conference that he was not going to rest until he investigated the full extent of the killings across Panjab. He had been warned and threatened to desist with his investigations, and whilst being fully aware of the risks of becoming a statistic himself, he continued valiantly. He accepted his fate and told the people of Panjab, to hold the Chief Minister Beant Singh and DGP KP Gill responsible for his impending disappearance and death.

The impunity Indian security forces enjoy was once again demonstrated when Khalra was abducted in broad daylight from his home on the 6 September 1995, under the direct orders of KPS Gill, who he referred to as the ‘Chief of Oppression’. Khalra was detained, tortured, and murdered by the police, his martyred body dumped in a river. The details of his death and Gill’s involvement only came to light due to a station officer’s miraculous attack of conscience. Special Police Officer (SPO) Kuldeep Singh, who was present when Khalra was detained, came forward and confessed his involvement in the custodial murder. Even with such evidence, it took a decade for 6 low level police officers to be convicted, during which time the senior officers who were responsible, DSP Ashok Kumar and SSP Ajit Sandhu had died. Worse still, KPS Gill was completely immune from prosecution and not even questioned by authorities about his involvement despite testimony of his involvement.

It is an insult to the sacrifice of brave Panjab human rights activists such as Khalra, that Bal writes off their just cause as “petty human rights movements”. Bal who reminds us at every opportunity that he worked in Panjab as a journalist, should have more respect for those who paid the highest price for exposing the brutality of the Panjab Police:

“Those who attempted to investigate the abuses were also targeted. Jaspal Singh, the president of the Ropar district branch of the Punjab Human Rights Organization (PHRO), was detained by the Punjab Police on August 16, 1993. He was released on September 1, 1993, only after his case received widespread international and domestic publicity. Other human rights activists have been targeted since 1991, including Ram Singh Biling, district secretary with PHRO, who disappeared after he was detained on January 3, 1992; Jagwinder Singh, a lawyer who disappeared after he was detained on September 25, 1992; Justice Ajit Singh Bains, also with PHRO, who was detained for four months in 1992 and Malwinder Singh Malli, another activist with PHRO who was detained for seven months in 1991.”

Human Rights Watch (1993)

Bal does not acknowledge this repression, although they feature in international reports, and thus doesn’t ask the obvious question that if mass “disappearances” were not being carried out, as claimed by KPS Gill, why did the Panjab Police target and murder journalists and human rights activists, who were investigating these so-called disappearances?

Refuting Human Rights Organisations

“The liberal mind is unwilling to believe that peace or liberal democracy needs force for the rule of law to establish at times” [sic].

Bal labours on to claim that respected International Human Rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch are partly responsible for the state killings of Sikhs in Panjab to suppress the Khalistan movement, because they term “terrorism” as “militancy” (a description Bal describes as “cringe-worthy”) and distort facts to build a false narrative. Gill is targeted, Bal stresses, not due to his brutality, but because he was most capable, and because he succeeded. Although he repeatedly refers to the allegation of brutality which Gill wore as a “badge of honour", he is careful not to actually delve into.

"Simply put, the facts in Punjab do not support the narrative built up by organisations such as the Human Rights Watch. For such organisations, Gill is a target not because he was the most brutal officer in charge (as the numbers suggest quite the opposite), but because he was the most capable, because he succeeded. They have done so to avoid facing up to the truth that a policy of healing hearts and minds in a state where terrorism never had the support of more than a tiny minority led to the worst bloodletting, a bloodletting in which the confusion they continue to propound by calling terrorism militancy, was culpable. The Khalistanis endorse this because nothing suits them more.”

‘Lessons not learnt: The Left and Right have distorted KPS Gill’s success against terrorism’, Hartosh Bal in Scroll 2017

The credit for “peace” (enforced silence) in Panjab Bal claims ought to go to Gill’s “strategic brilliance”, and that those who accuse him of succeeding through barbarity “do not know what they are talking about”. Bal doesn’t however want to discuss what it is they are talking about. Despite mountains of documents and reports, and a larger count of dismembered bodies, Bal conveniently sidesteps this whole issue.

The brutal approach the people of Panjab were subjected to—which Bal is desperate to forget—included:

Mass killings of those involved or associated with the Khalistan movement, including their family members.

Torture on a mass scale, used to instil fear and repress support for the Khalistan movement.

Mass custodial rape, and rape used as a weapon against Sikh fighters and civilians

Findings of organisations vilified by Bal

In 1994 Human Rights Watch produced a comprehensive report ‘Dead Silence: The Legacy of Human Rights Abuses in Punjab’, following a fact-finding mission to Punjab in October 1992.

“The price of the government's apparent success against the separatists is the legacy of these abuses: a corrupt and brutalized police force whose resort to murder and torture has been sanctioned by the state as an acceptable means of combatting political violence.”

“the fundamental purpose of torture appears to be to inflict severe physical and psychological pain in order to destroy the dignity and will of individuals and to repress potential support for political opponents by indiscriminately targeting members of certain political groups or social communities.”

Those interviewed include serving police officers:

“Once I became a police officer in Punjab, I realized that torture is used routinely. During my five years with the Punjab police, I estimate 4,000 to 5,000 were torture at my police station alone”

Another officer confirmed that this was not subordinate officers acting with a free reign, but rather this was policy, and incentivised:

“Torturers are selected on the basis of their mind setting: For example, one who shows a tendency. If he does not comply, he will be suspended or dismissed. Mostly, they do it drunk. Then, after they get accustomed to it, they do it sober. There is no extra pay, but he expects favors, like an out-of-turn promotion. An SI may become DSP in just a few months for torturing”

This was one of several victims of torture the researchers interviewed in Panjab:

“I was stripped naked and beaten many times. My legs were stretched apart and the iron roller was used on my legs. A wooden rod was placed behind my knees and my legs were pressed towards my buttocks. They brought in a young man who was badly tortured. "He has agreed to tell us about the militants," they said. "If you do not disclose anything, you will be shot and your body thrown into the canal."

When PHR's Dr. Iacopino examined A. in March 1994, he had striking physical evidence of the abuse he described. There were areas of marked atrophy (tissue loss) and fibrosis (scaring) of both left and right anterior thigh muscles, consistent with extensive muscle damage from the roller method of torture. There was a twelve centimetre surgical scar present in the right lateral chest wall where a large hematoma was said to have been removed and a two centimetre surgical scar in the left groin area. There was a bony deformity and callus formation present over the left shin, indicating a possible old fracture where the roller had been applied.

“The US State Department reported on the case of Kulwant Singh, a lawyer, who was killed along with his wife and child after all three were detained on January 25, 1993, by police from the Ropar police station. Chief Minister Beant Singh reportedly agreed to order an inquiry into the killings but backed down when confronted with police resistance.”

U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1993, February 1994

In 2005, in response to the extradition of Sikh militant, Kulbir Singh Barapind, diplomatic cables published by Wiki Leaks report that the US were informed that in addition to Sikh militants themselves, their families and friends were tortured as a matter of policy:

“Editor Avinash Chopra stated that Barapind's relatives were tortured in 1988-89 as a matter of procedure, and that the police routinely tortured and/or killed terrorists' families and associates.”

Canonical ID:05NEWDELHI9513_a

According to Bal however Amnesty, HRW, US State Department, CDDP, MASR, etc either “do not know what they are talking about” or “distort what happened”. Instead Bal digs deeper into his dehumanisation of resisting Sikh bodies to provide cover for complaints of gross and widespread human rights abuses, by claiming that “Jatt Chittar de Yaar Hondai ne”, loosely translated: “Peasant Sikhs in Panjab are fond/lovers of being beaten”. This perverse and insensitive stereotype is a grotesque justification for mass human rights violations which encourages the use of brute force as a matter of policy.

Perpetuating Police Corruption and Violence

Bal has made no reference to any of the large number of senior police officers, who served under KPS Gill, who have been charged, convicted and sentenced for extortion, torture and murder.

Although Bal refers to Gill’s “strategic brilliance” there is no mention in either Bal’s article or speech of the infamous “Black Cats” championed by Gill. In terms of strategy, the Black Cats, secret paramilitary groups, were set up to carry out actions too heinous to be committed in police uniform, and had devastating effect in targeting the civilian supporters or political proponents of Khalistan:

“During the Punjab militancy of the 1980s-1990s, Additional Director General of Police (Administration) Mohammad Izhar Alam assembled a large, personal paramilitary force of approximately 150 men known as the "Black Cats" or "Alam Sena" ("Alam's Army")…The group had reach throughout the Punjab and is alleged to have had carte blanche in carrying out possibly thousands of staged encounters, according to Indian NGO and press reports. Gill publicly praised the group and said the Punjab police could not have functioned without them.”

Wiki Leaks Cable Canonical ID:05NEWDELHI9513_a

While Bal may not mention them, Black Cats and other brutal and illegal practices of Gill’s subordinates feature in international reports, and it is clear from the Wiki Leaks cables that international governments were fully aware.

While Gill enjoyed blanket immunity until his death, his protégés have come under increasing pressure from family members of victims, who have braved police excesses themselves. Despite an apathetic, often complicit attitude from the judiciary and long-term harassment from the police, these families have struggled for up to 3 decades in order to pursue the culprits in India’s infamously delayed and corrupt legal system.

Some of the Police officers, who were protected by Gill and received out of turn promotions to the highest echelons of the Panjab Police include:

Sumedh Saini, former DGP of Panjab Police: An arrest warrant has recently been issued for murder charges relating to the murder of Balwant Singh Multani in 1991. Two of his police officers at the time, and who were co-accused, have confessed that it was upon Saini’s orders that 28 year old Balwant, a junior engineer was picked up by the Chandigarh Police. Gursharan Kaur, a lawyer by profession, had also been detained with her husband and young child and has come forward as a witness in the case:

“The next day, on 12 December, we were taken to Sector 17 police station and there Multani was also present, in a very bad shape, having been subjected to brutal torture. I cannot even describe his state.” She said that on the night of 13 December, “Sumedh Saini came and he kicked Multani, and he and his men savagely tortured him. He was lying on the ground, unable to even stand. Multani was begging Saini to forgive him and there were wails and cries … in the verandah in the morning, he was lying in a very bad state… his eye was popped out and he was bleeding profusely”

The Caravan, May 2020

One of the police officers involved, Jagir Singh, confessed to his involvement and gave evidence against Saini. Jagir Singh confirmed that Saini had tasked the officers to fabricate false charges including the manipulated recovery of a pistol and falsifying records to show that he had escaped, even though Multani had already been killed in police custody.

Jagir’s statement further details that Saini had personally kicked Multani so violently while he was already incapacitated on the ground that he caused massive facial injuries including the rupturing of his eyeball out of the socket. Saini, former trusted lieutenant of KPS Gill, who protected his officers from prosecution while he was alive, then sat and directed the torture including the thrusting of a wooden staff up into Multani’s anus, causing massive internal injuries which ultimately led to his death in detention. Like thousands of others, the police claimed he escaped and then secretly disposed of his body.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Ensaaf, a non profit organisation investigating the forced disappearances in Panjab, have uncovered evidence that links Saini to the illegal disappearances of at least 159 people. That number is increasing as investigations continue, with over 30 senior police officers implicated in a similar pattern of abduction and murder in hundreds of cases.

It is astonishing that Bal has very little if anything to say about the charges against Saini, and what they tell us about Gill’s legacy. If Bal honestly believed Gill and his trained successors were defenders of democracy, he would be outraged by the revelations. The truth is that he knows very well, as does everyone, hence the complicit silence.

In order to frame this perfect legacy of Gill, Bal doesn’t mention the assassination of Chief Minister Beant Singh at all. The assassination of the Chief Minister, who enjoyed the highest level of security in the country, was carried out by his own police officers.

After witnessing first hand what the police was being made to do by Gill and Beant Singh, Panjab Police Officers Balwant Singh Rajoana, and Dilawar Singh, made up their minds to stop the killings and made contact with Babbar Khalsa to help them.

While Dilawar Singh was killed in the explosion that took the Chief Minister’s life, Rajoana was arrested shortly after. He refused legal assistance and made a full and frank confession that he and his companions had taken the move in order to stop Beant Singh, who had given orders to the police and other agencies in Panjab to kill thousands of innocent Sikhs at the behest of Delhi (Central Government).

Bal and Gill, a tale of Heroization

“In our times that word hero can only be applied to one man, and he [Gill] is that man.” - KPS memorial speech by Hartosh Bal

Decades of investigations and reports into the extent of the mass abduction and killing of Sikhs in Panjab, in order to quell the Khalistan movement cannot be reproduced in this article. Neither should they be. Hartosh Bal is a veteran journalist who is fully aware of what has been happening.

This is why it is deplorable that Bal not only heralds Gill as a hero, but claims policy makers ought to learn lessons from him. In regards to torture, Bal claims that torture is widely practiced across India, thus “accusations” of torture during the Khalistan movement should be expected.

When Bal claims to stand against human rights abuses and accepts that torture is widespread in India he must then also be aware of the history and reality of how and why torture is employed by Indian Secuirty forces. Bal must also be aware of the internal and international condemnation of torture practiced by the Indian state.

When Bal makes the appalling justification that Sikhs enjoy beatings, an idea rooted in racist coloniser logic that non-white peoples can only be subdued through violence, he furthers the Otherisation of Sikh bodies in a manner consistent with India’s colonial moorings that underpin its treatment of dissenting minorities.

Hartosh Bal minimises, justifies, and erases State violence committed against Sikhs through his efforts to rehabilitate the public image of his uncle based on a selective depiction of Gill’s legacy. Bal demonstrates his awareness of the political reality of the Indian colonial project when he suggests that holding KPS Gill accountable would be to hold him to ‘higher standards’.

Given Bal’s reputation, and that of the Caravan, it is absurd for Bal to justify government sanctioned and rewarded genocide masked as ‘counter-insurgency’. After all that is the realm in which KPS Gill gained his monikers of “butcher”, “brutal”, and “Chief of Oppression”.

Bal has attempted to erase and avoid any discussion of Gill’s wrongdoings and its place within the suppression of minorities, particularly Sikh activists, in Punjab.

Through his use of poor statistical analyses, his refutation of Sikh activists and their work uncovering state sanctioned killings, and direct attacks on the work of human rights organisations, Bal perpetuates police corruption and impunity. By heroizing KPS Gill, Bal demonstrates a distinctive lack of integrity as well as a lack of reflection entirely unbefitting of a journalist.

It is absurd for Bal to hold Gill as a shining example of democracy, the rule of law and justice. A person responsible for the torture and killings of an inconceivable number of innocent Sikhs can be many things, but only a hero to the State that celebrates him as a “super cop”. The families who continue to stand against a pervasive fascist State which has protected and rewarded murderers, are the real heroes.

  • Gill claimed repeatedly throughout his career and in retirement that false encounters did not take place, that he led the most humane counter insurgency operation in the world and that the thousands missing were “missing with the consent of their parents and relatives and their whereabouts were known to their families” - The Tribune, 19 January 1995

Source:- The True Legacy of KPS GILL

KPS Gill was a real hero. Don’t call him a butcher,” says Gill’s wife Heminder Kaur

Heminder Kaur, the wife of notorious Ex-DGP Punjab KPS Gill, has objection over her husband being referred as a Butcher. She says her husband was a real hero who brought back “peace” in Punjab.

Interacting with media, Heminder Kaur claimed that KPS Gill never violated religious tenets so calling him Tankhaiya (guilty of violating Sikh tenets) was also “unfair”.

“Gill Saab was not very religious but was a follower of Guru Gobind Singh whom he considered as his guiding force,” HT quoted her version about Gill.

It is pertinent to note here that KPS Gill responsible for massacring thousands of innocent Sikh youths in Punjab during the early 1990s.

Source:- KPS Gill was a real hero. Don’t call him a butcher,” says Gill’s wife Heminder Kaur

Commentary On KPS Gill And Sadhavi Khosla’s Book “The Enemies Within”

Commentary On KPS Gill And Sadhavi Khosla’s Book “The Enemies Within”

As age catches up, ex-DGP Kanwarpal Gill alias KPS Gill, has come out with a book called “Punjab – The Enemies Within” in which he weaves a web of lies, distortions and subterfuge. The book is a joint venture of KPS Gill and Sadhavi Khosla.

When I picked up the book, I thought that at least at the fag end of his life, Gill may have done some soul-searching and made some frank and honest admissions, but that was not to be.

After reading the book, I can easily say that, “The so-called super cop of one small section of Punjab and “Butcher of the Sikhs” for another has spun not just half-truths but lies galore. The 47-page chapter penned by Gill is mainly one-way traffic dominated by biased views and distorted versions of every big or small event that occurred during those times.

As they say everyone has his own truths. It depends upon which side of the fence you are. Gill is surely on Delhi’s side and those who were part of the militant movement including myself represent the Sikh side.

Targeting me in a personal remark, Gill has accused me of having contacts with subversive and disruptive elements in the state and beyond. Obviously, the darling of the Indian state does not need to give proof, as if his words are gospel truth. Going further, he says that Dal Khalsa under Gajinder Singh tried to float a joint platform with the militants of Kashmir in 1997-98. Laugh it off as this is far from truth. I do not think I should say more than this to his wild accusations against my party and me.

His narration of events borders on the absurd at many places in the book. He has wrongly blamed Bhai Fauja Singh for hacking off the arm of a Hindu sweetmeats seller on his way to the Nirankari convention on April 13 1978 and that he was shot dead because he attempted to kill the Nirankari chief Gurbachan Singh who was holding a satsang over there.

It is common knowledge that 13 devout Sikhs including Bhai Fauja Singh fell to the bullets of Nirankaris and the police on that day in Amritsar when they went to protest against the denigration of Sikh religious ethos by Nirankaris. The jatha of peaceful Sikhs was without firearms, carrying traditional Kirpans and they were shot at near the venue. The question of Bhai Fauja Singh reaching inside the pandal and attempting to kill the heretical cult-head just doesn’t arise.

The “highly-acclaimed” officer has failed to get his facts right, which are classic examples of his working style. Apart from many other gaps, Gill harps on the longest permanent presence of Council of Khalistan in Pakistan represented by Balbir Singh Sandhu -the secretary general of the organization. Sandhu expired 12 years back in 2005 after a brief illness. According to Gill, Jagtar Singh Tara, the assassin of Punjab CM Beant Singh lives in Lahore whereas the fact is that Punjab Police arrested him from Thailand in June 2015 and brought him back. He is lodged in Chandigarh jail since the last twenty-two months. All this shows is that his publication is without ground work, verification and historical correctness.

Not known for being truthful, Gill in his detailed account of Punjab’s militancy era has indulged in massive self-praise and patted his own back. Mirroring the New Delhi mindset whom he represented fully as the “Subedar of India” in Punjab, he viewed and handled the Punjab problem as a law and order problem. For him, like for the government of India, Sikh aspirations never existed, nor do they exist even now.

Harping on the same old theory based on hearsay, Gill like many other contemporary writers and columnists has linked Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale’s emergence on the political canvass of Punjab as a Congress mischief, merely aimed at undermining the political base of Akali Dal. A lead story by seasoned journalist and former Indian Express scribe Jagtar Singh on June 26, 1981 with the headline, “Maverick in quest of martyrdom” belies all such vague accusations and suspicion about pro-Panthik credentials of the Sant. It’s very much clear that anyone who is willing to die for a just cause and ready for martyrdom cannot be a plant of someone else. Sant attained martyrdom in the true spirit of Sikh tradition.

If one admits Gill’s version that a large section of people of the state were affected by violence carried out by militant groups, his writing is silent about State terrorism unleashed by the Punjab police under his jackboots with full support of the Union government.

Throughout his writing, Gill refuses to recognize the indigenous character of the Sikh struggle. As a master manipulator, Gill twisted the genesis of the conflict to portray Sikh freedom-fighters as “mindless persons acting on behalf of Pakistan and its Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI)”.

While Gill takes sadistic pleasure in tarnishing the ethics of militants, he remains silent on his openly known love for wine and women, sometimes even in full public view. Like all his allegations without authenticity and genuine proof, he blames the militants, without being specific, of rape in the households that sheltered them. There is no denial that during revolutionary struggles, people with personal weaknesses tend to creep in. At the same time, the dirty tricks department of the police too sponsored criminal elements, renegades and police vigilantes to carry out such acts to defame the movement.

Toeing New Delhi’s line Gill never ever accepted that the Punjab problem required a political resolution. Gill has totally ignored how Punjab was robbed of its river waters, territory, legitimate rights including right to self-determination. He reduces the cases of excesses to a personal level by saying that there were some stray incidents of violations by individual cops and that courts have punished them. He even termed the abduction and subsequent elimination of well-known rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra as one of the limited and individual irregularities that occurred. In his eyes, all hue and cry by victims for justice and advocacy groups is mere propaganda.

Not in a mood to accept the blame for human rights violations by the Punjab police, Gill took refuge in divergence of numbers cited by different Sikh groups. He cited the variations of the numbers by advocacy groups from 20000 to 50000 Sikhs killed during the course of the struggle to give clean chit to his force. Admittedly numbers of victims of state terrorism may be wrong, perhaps even exaggerated but the fact is that under Gill, the right to life in Punjab was virtually suspended and the immunity given to the police resulted in gross human rights abuse from torture to extrajudicial killings. Numbers are important but the life of even individual is more important than any of the misguided logic of Gill put together.

Strongly contesting and challenging Gill’s portrayal of Khalistani ideology and vision, as the Talibanized version of Sikhism, I must categorically say that the struggle for freedom of Punjab is fulfillment of a quest for Sikh sovereignty. Historically, it is the culmination of regaining Sikh self-rule lost in 1849. Like many writers of the past, the author has also failed to see and understand this historical perspective.

Surprisingly Gill admits that 65 percent of all civilian victims killed by militants were Sikhs. By saying so, he himself questions the notion of the Sikh struggle being anti-Hindu. Admittedly, loss of innocent lives, irrespective of one’s religion, during the course of Sikh struggle is regrettable. If one has to leave Punjab just because he was not a Sikh, I feel sorry for that.

Moved by the sufferings of victim families of fake encounters and enforced disappearance and their long unending wait for their loved ones, I can say that the shrieks of sisters and mothers whose brothers and sons were killed extra-judicially on the orders of Gill, will continue to haunt him and them.

Co-author Sadhavi Khosla has written the major portion of the book. However, I haven’t touched the portion penned by her in my commentary except the section wherein she justifies the assault on Darbar Sahib, militarily called Operation Bluestar to prevent the formation of Khalistan. Her version stems from her lack of knowledge, insensitivity towards Sikh faith and a pathetically narrow approach. She has perceived the genesis of Punjab conflict through the prism of KPS Gill.

The authors of the book have looked for enemies within the state of Punjab and miserably failed to identify enemies of Punjab and Sikhs in the neighbouring states and the enemies amongst the minions of the Indian state who are still playing ping-pong with Punjab -both on rights issues and the drug abuse problem.

Source:- Commentary On KPS Gill And Sadhavi Khosla’s Book “The Enemies Within”


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  9. ^ The Sikh Times - News and Analysis - K.P.S. Gill Is a "Hero"
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