Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Modern Indus Valley Civilization

Here is a topic that every Indian knows even though some more than others who are on the receiving end, especially the innocent ones that have been framed and wrongfully accused, killed and awards have been given, and heroes have been declared by the fine tuned modern Indian state machinery, "The Encounter Killings”. The name KPS Gill in Punjab comes to mind to very Sikh, even though there are many more in other parts of India like Gujrat, Kashmir, Delhi, Bombay and other places, where police just merely became a witness if not assisted in killings including fake killings of minorities in India. The Hindu India loves to boast and talks about "truth" in its natinal theme as it relates to Gandhi, as it realtes to National emblem with words "satyamev jayte", Indian Democracy and other Religious teachings. One wonders why Buddhism and Buddhists are hardly found in India, even though it is a birthplace of India. One simple reason, it was driven out with a force. The question is, how true is Indian democracy and how civilized is India? Is Sikhism facing the same threat? I would say “no”but I really don’t know. Since Sikhs are not like Buddhists to walk away and have a history for fighting against tyranny and for God given right and justice. Since 1947, the constant discriminatory practices towards majority Sikh state Punjab by majority Hindu Nation India is a proof enough for what happened in Punjab during the 1980s and 1990s. Having to live with a divided Punjab by the British, the Punjabis faced a further division of their home into the three Indian states (Haryana, Himachal Pardesh and Punjab) in 1966, reducing the number of political representation of Punjabis in the Indian Political system thru political manipulations to practically nothing, manipulation of hard earned money of Punjabis taken away by centralized banks of India to develop industry and education for the rest of India, manipulation of grain prices to keep Punjabi farmers poor and illiterate, lack of industrial investment due to claims by India that Punjab falls within the vicinity of Pakistan, no State capitol of its own to govern and make rules that would favor Punjabis, push towards Hindi and English over Punjabi thru media, laws, Bollywood movies, schools, jobs, companies, and other Indian national and centrally sponsored programs. The Nehru India killed its own rich dress, heritage, pride, mother languages of India including Punjabi, calendar, cultures, festivals, traditions by embracing and adopting English language, western dress (especially men in India than women who seem to have no guts to wear Dhoti and Kurta Pajama even after British have left and love copying western culture and clothes, at least women proudly wear salwaar kameezes, saris, chola etc.) in the post colonial period. And, worst yet, many Indians get mad when this is ponted out instead of accepting it and changing their ways. Sikhs in Punjab have been as much of victims of this onslaught as many other minority communities since they were at the mercy of Indian national policies and laws.
Where is the Sikh Autonomy? Now I am not for separation of Sikhs from India since I believe Sikhs are better off staying united with India than separating themselves from India. But change needs to come in India, otherwise it is doomed to fail and be enslaved again by some other foreign power, be it China, Japan, U.S. or may be Pakistan again. I hope not but things are pointing that way. India belongs to Sikhs as much as Hindus, Moslems, Christians and others and everyone has an equal right to live peacefully. If Sikhs have to fight for it, I say then be it. At least it will be a just fight for right to live in peace. The way things are going, I think India is digging its own grave and day is not far when it will be at the receiving end. No matter how many H Bombs, nuclear bombs and other advanced weapon systems it may have, how many missile systems, navy ships, fighter jets, tanks it may have. Because one thing it doesn’t have which is very important for winning any war with a foreign country, “Compassion and capability of developing and tapping its own full human population potential in a positive way, treating every citizen with dignity, fairness and respect, guaranteeing peace”. I don’t think that is happening in India, especially with Sikhs. The Indian state and the politics thrive on “Divide and Rule” policy of the Brahman which divides people and nation based on caste, creed, religion, and gender. To me this is the biggest weakness of India and it will haunt it for a long time to come. India has had the greatest weapons before, greatest armies before, but it was always enslaved by foreigners. Why? The infighting and divisions among people, lack of visionary leadership, compassion and the will to do the right thing and deliver justice.
Encounter killings
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Encounter killings is a euphemism used in India and Pakistan to describe extrajudicial killings in which police shoot down alleged gangsters and terrorists in gun battles. Encounter killings were common in Mumbai, India, from the 1990s through the mid 2000s and some of the police officers involved came to be known as 'Encounter Specialists'. The Mumbai police resorted to encounter killings as they believed that these killings delivered speedy justice. Encounter killings severely crippled the Underworld in Mumbai and busted the extortion racket which was rampant at that time. Encounter killings, together with torture by police in lock-ups and custodial deaths have irked human rights activists.[1]
Police encounter in Punjab
Main article: Police encounter
Police encounter is a term used by Indian security forces to explain and excuse the death of an individual at their hands. The term was often used during the counter-insurgency campaign in the state of Punjab between 1984 and 1995. uring this time, Punjab police officials would often report “encounters” to local newspapers and to the family members of those killed. The victim was typically a person the police deemed to be a militant, or to be involved in the militant separatist movement, though proof of alleged militant involvement was rarely given. Such encounters have also been referred to as “staged encounters” or “fake encounters,” as these deaths were often believed to be the result of torture or outright execution. Ultimately, the practice became so common that “encounter” became synonymous with extrajudicial execution.[7]
It is alleged that police would typically take a suspected militant into custody without filing an arrest report. If the suspect died during interrogation, security forces would deny ever taking the person into custody and instead claim that they were killed during an armed encounter.[8] Many Indians believe police would add weapons to the dead body to demonstrate cause for killing the individual, stage managing the encounter, leading to the popular phrase “fake encounter killing.”[9] They would also concoct a story about militants staging an attack, or the suspect attempting to escape while being escorted to recover militant arms.[10] At times, the Punjab police applied for and received production warrants that allowed them to remove individuals accused in terrorism cases from jail, and whereupon they often killed the detainees in fake encounters.[11] Sukhwinder Singh Bhatti, a criminal defense attorney in Punjab who defended such suspects, was himself disappeared in May of 1994.

In popular culture
Many Indian films have been made depicting Police encounters in Bollywood and South Indian Cinema. The most recent blockbusters are Risk and Shootout at Lokhandwala. Other famous films include Ab Tak Chhappan starring Nana Patekar, Encounter: The Killing starring Naseeruddin Shah and the 2003 Tamil film, Kaakha Kaakha.
1. ^ C R Sridhar. Sunshine India: Encounter Killings, Torture and Custodial Deaths. October 11, 2006.
2. ^ Alex Perry. Urban Cowboys. TIME Magazine. Jan. 06, 2003.
3. ^ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Cop-Pradeep-Sharma-reinstated/articleshow/4496263.cms
4. ^ a b c d Encounter man Pradip Sharma completes 'century'
5. ^ Fallen Heroes. India Today.
6. ^ http://www.tehelka.com/story_main26.asp?filename=Ne021007Ab_tak.asp
7. ^ Dead Silence: The Legacy of Abuses in Punjab. Human Rights Watch/Asia and Physicians for Human Rights. 1994.
8. ^ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (India). U.S. State Department. 1993.
9. ^ Pepper, Daniel (02/28/2009). "India Makes A Place for Dirty Harry". NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/weekinreview/01pepper.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
10. ^ "India-Who Killed the Sikhs". Dateline. 4/3/2002. http://news.sbs.com.au/dateline/index.php?page=transcript&dte=2002-04-03&headlineid=427. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
11. ^ "Communication to Special Representative on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders". Ensaaf. 05/12/2006. http://www.ensaaf.org/pdf/un/Bhatti.pdf. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
• Crime in Mumbai
• Police encounter
External links
• Interview with Mumbai Police Joint Commissioner
• Reduced to Ashes: A Report on Disappearances and Encounters in Punjab
• India: Extrajudicial Killings under the spotlight
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encounter_killings"


Fake encounters and the Indian state
There is little legitimacy for the kind of killings police and other security forces have been resorting to lately
All the gory details of the calculated murders of Sohrabbudin Sheikh, his wife Kausarbi and a police informer late last year in a fake encounter near Ahmedabad by a police party, comprising, among others, three IPS officers, are now in the public domain. While the shock and outrage felt by a concerned civil society at the gruesome event is understandable, the extent of support and approbation that Vanzara and his co-accused have received from several quarters, including so me politicians, is somewhat difficult to readily accept.
Not that it is an altogether new development. Only a few years ago, similar approbatory affirmations greeted the Punjab police for their brutal handling of Sikh militancy. Indeed the Punjab police could not have employed the shockingly repressive measures in the centrally-ruled State unless its leadership was sure of full state backing.
A large segment of Indian society too approved of its tactics, despite its deeply tainted operational record of kidnappings, disappearances, extortions and brutal killings, which left thousands of Sikhs traumatised and disabled for life.
In fact, the Punjab police are believed to have refined the art and science of fake encounters to near perfection, right up to ferrying alleged terrorists from far off places in vehicles with fictitious number plates to home ground and then bumping them off.
If Vanzara and other such encounter specialists are found to have accumulated assets worth several crores, one has only to look around Chandigarh and its satellite towns to marvel at the mansions, farmhouses and holiday resorts that cropped up in the aftermath of Punjab militancy. Yet those nightmarish happenings in Punjab remain shrouded in a conspiracy of silence for obvious reasons, although they have become a veritable model for anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism strategies, spawning a culture of state terrorism and hard policing all over the country.
Dangerous trend
This is obviously a deeply flawed and dangerous trend. For, Indian law does not sanction the use of deadly force against alleged criminals of whatever category except when a member of the public is under an imminent threat of loss of life or serious injury from a criminal act and there is no other means available to the police to save his life.
This right of private defence is also available to a member of a police or security organisation, placed in a similar situation. Even then the law requires that adequate warning is given before using deadly force to neutralise the threat. There is thus little legitimacy or justification for the kind of encounter killings the police and other security forces have been resorting to lately all over the country.
Even then, cold-blooded acts of murder to deal with dacoit gangs, crime mafias, extremists and terrorists and faking the misdeeds as encounters have lately become a much-favoured strategy with South Asian police forces as our legal and judicial architecture remains rooted in mid-nineteenth century concepts and enactments and is frequently found wanting in delivering quick and effectual justice to cope with the current upsurge in militant and extremist violence.
What is more, South Asian political and bureaucratic establishments are not averse to promoting the belief that encounters, fake or otherwise, are an acceptable mode of combating terrorism, militancy, mafia crimes and other such organised and ruthless criminal activity. Encounter killings have, thus, not only acquired substantial acceptability among many otherwise fairly discerning members of our civil society, the so-called encounter experts are also greatly lionised in films and other media.
Most military and security top brass openly and many politicians secretly prescribe the same treatment for the growing Maoist insurgency. In the face of such demonstrated state support for extra judicial killings, is it any wonder that more and more policemen, including IPS officers, are inclined to short-circuit the due process and win medals and accolades in the bargain?
Unless substantive and sustainable corrective measures are taken urgently, the ability of our police to meet the myriad emerging challenges in a lawful manner will continue to deteriorate, leading soon to a collapse of the rule of law and civilised governance that form the bedrock of a modern, democratic and responsive polity. Are we prepared for that to happen?
(The writer is a former Director General of Police, Punjab)
International news agencies focus on fake encounters
in Punjab
WSN Network

AMRITSAR: One of the world's leading news agencies, the Associated Press, has now extensively covered the shameful adoption of "fake encounters" as a tool by the Punjab Police and the Indian state to counter what official India calls "militancy" and "insurgency" and the Sikhs see as a fight to stress community aspirations.

The Associated Press reporter, Matthew Rosenberg, narrated the case of Gurnam Singh Bandala extensively in his June 10 despatch from Amritsar, published next day widely in many newspapers across the world, including the Arizona Republic and St Petersburg Times, Florida. Bandala was gunned down in a shootout with police 13 years ago during the waning days of an uprising by Sikh militants, officers claimed the reward money on his head but then Bandala turned up alive, living as a preacher outside this northern Indian city.

"Authorities now believe an innocent farmer was deliberately killed by police so that they could present his body as Bandala's and collect a $60,000 bounty," the AP reporter wrote, adding that "Bandala's re-emergence is one of nearly a dozen similar cases reviewed by the AP that have surfaced recently in India."

The report is full of terms like "brutal result of a system dominated by poorly educated, badly trained and corruptible cops, dirty politicians and stagnated courts where justice, if it ever comes, can be delayed for years."

"The exact number of fake encounters is impossible to determine. Police officials acknowledge only a handful over the past two decades and say they are isolated cases," the AP report said.

As is well-known by now, Bandala, meanwhile, was caught by police in 1998 and spent four years in prison on charges of carrying illegal weapons. He was convicted under his real name, but the public record - which lists Bandala as deceased - was never changed. The establishment in India may like to keep such cases under wraps for years to save itself from public shame and embarrassment but then it should not complain when international human rights groups and neutral reporters occasionaly state the truth. Hanging its head in shame should by now be a practised art for Indian politicians and justice dispensing machinery comprising police and courts.
13 June 2007

Punjab orders probe into ‘fake encounters’
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Express news service Tags : Posted: Monday , Apr 30, 2007 at 0035 hrs AMRITSAR: :

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After The Indian Express reported the “resurfacing” of three Punjab terrorists who were said to have been killed, the state government has ordered a high-level probe into the fake killings. A special team, comprising senior police officers, has been constituted to dig out facts regarding the “killing” of these terrorists. The report is expected within a fortnight.
Disclosing this, Information and Public Relations Minister Bikramjit Singh Majithia said he has spoken to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in this regard. “The necessary orders for the probe have been issued. The inquiry will also find out who were killed in place of these former terrorists. Justice will be done,” he said.
The newspaper had recently exposed the Punjab Police which declared these terrorists “dead” in three separate encounters and pocketed Rs 35 lakh in awards.


The Real Fake Encounter
When Media and Politicians Evade Reality
by Rajinder Puri
The alleged fake encounter perpetrated by the Gujarat police is horrendous. Sympathizers of the Gujarat government dwell on the reputation of the victim, Sohrabuddin Sheikh, allegedly a criminal with possible links to terrorists. Does this unproven fact justify cold-blooded murder? That politicians justify police excess by questioning the nature of the victim is nothing new.
Decades ago the police paraded Maya Tyagi naked through the streets of a UP town for alleged misdemeanor. Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister justified the police action by describing Maya Tyagi as a woman of dubious character. So much for a woman PM defending the rights of women!
In the current fake encounter case two women witnesses of the murder, not described as criminals, were allegedly killed by the police to ensure their silence. More cases of fake encounters by the same police officers are surfacing.
Is it too cynical to suggest that the revelations in Gujarat have surfaced only because of a silent power struggle within the BJP? The Hindu wrongly attributed a police report related to the Gujarat fake encounter to one officer. The Gujarat government rebutted the news. The Hindu conceded that the report had not been officially submitted but was in its preparatory stage. Significantly, The Hindu editor claimed that the report had been leaked by a senior BJP leader. BJP leaders maintained a diplomatic silence over the editor’s claim.
The current buzz against police fake encounters lends hope that it will lead eventually to a systemic reform. To ensure that any such effort is not derailed one must recognize reality. The hard reality is that police excess in India has decades-old origins. It was allowed to flourish under criminalized politicians and a subservient media. Political parties and the media have always distanced themselves from this ugly reality of law and order.
Last week the leading columnist of a national daily commented that India could not claim to be a democracy if it “countenances rogue police officers playing God”. The leading columnist of another national daily, while deploring the police excess in Gujarat, suggested that the ultimate responsibility lay with India’s middle class which condoned police crimes. Was the distinguished columnist including media as part of the middle class?
Politicians across the country are pulling out old fake encounter cases from closets to score points against political rivals. Fake encounters have become the current drawing room conversation topic. Whatever the motives of politicians in digging out old dirt, the effect is positive. Whether the muckraking arises from infighting or from a belated sense of responsibility, the result is welcome. It could initiate a long delayed cleanup of the police system.
Consider the case of Punjab. An Akali-BJP combine now rules the state. The consequent desire of the Punjab government to even the score against the Congress after the Gujarat exposure is self-evident. Media reports revealed that several alleged terrorists “killed” by the police, for which policemen duly collected rewards, are still alive. This was sufficient ground for the Punjab government to order “a fact-finding inquiry” by a team under a senior police official. The probe will cover the fake killings involving the state police during the height of the militancy two decades ago when the Congress governed Punjab.
Should one laugh or cry over the antics of these politicians and over our hand-wringing media pundits? What new facts will any inquiry reveal? It may be instructive, though, to recall the past. This should among other things set the record straight for the benefit of the distinguished newspaper columnist who condemned the middle class for allowing excesses by the police.
Reports of police excesses against innocents in the name of fighting militancy had circulated in Punjab for a considerable time. Many youths had disappeared. In 1995 Jaswant Singh Khalra, who headed the human rights wing of the Akali Dal, issued a press note alleging thousands of police custodial deaths. Khalra claimed that the victims were secretly cremated. In the police records they were listed as “unidentified”. The Punjab Director General of Punjab police at the time, KPS Gill, rebutted Khalra’s claim. He said: “Thousands of Sikh youth who had left for foreign countries under fake names and documents were claiming to be missing persons killed by security forces in encounters.” He added, “They are missing with the consent of their parents.” It is possible some youths might have disappeared in this manner. But to offer this as adequate explanation for the disappearance of all the missing youth betrayed careless, callous thinking.
The Punjab media picked up the report. After this, Khalra was whisked away by the police. He too disappeared. It was presumed he was killed. Middle class citizens (newspaper columnists please note) belonging to human rights bodies formed an apex body, the Committee for Coordination on Disappearances in Punjab (CCDP). It was funded solely by local donors. CCDP took Khalra’s case to the Supreme Court. Ensuing investigation proved that Khalra had been killed. Nine police officials were indicted. The Supreme Court then ordered the CBI to investigate Khalra’s charges of secret police mass cremations.
The CBI confirmed that the police had illegally cremated 2097 victims of custodial death or fake encounters in Amritsar district alone. The remaining 16 districts of Punjab were not investigated. Of these victims the CBI identified 582 who were all non-terrorists. The CCDP identified over 1700 victims and their families. It chronicled the torture, harassment and extortion inflicted by the police on the victims and their families. Many among them were unconnected to terrorism, and killed in cold blood by the police. A leading CCDP activist, Ram Narayan Kumar, wrote a meticulously researched book, Reduced to Ashes, which laid bare the whole truth of this gruesome carnage.
After the CBI report the Supreme Court in 1997 designated the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to deal with the case. It vested NHRC with full powers of the Supreme Court. Apart from awarding paltry compensation to the families of victims, the NHRC did precious little. In 2002 LK Advani and Amarinder Singh pleaded amnesty for all the tainted policemen. KPS Gill continued to trash human rights activists on TV. The national media virtually ignored the 2097 police custodial deaths that had been verified by the CBI and the Supreme Court.
Recall – Pinochet of Chile was held personally responsible for 3000 innocents killed; and Milosevic of Serbia, personally, for the death of 2000 innocents. Both were reviled as international war criminals. But for 2097 deaths in only one district of Punjab nobody has been held accountable. Who is to blame for this – the politicians and media, or the middle class?
May 16, 2007


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