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Witness: K.P.S. Gill Visited Khalra in Jail
By JANGVEER SINGH
The Tribune, Patiala, Feb. 17, 2005
Photo: Jaswant Singh Khalra
The disappearance of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra has taken a new turn with 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 [D.G.P.] K.P.S. Gill go into a room in which Khalra was being kept at Manawala in Tarn Taran.
The witness, Kuldeep Singh, is a former Special Police Officer who claims he was recruited into the police by former Tarn Taran Senior Superintendent of Police [S.S.P.] Ajit Singh Sandhu. He told the court of the Additional Sessions Judge here that it was Sandhu's house in Manawala village in Tarn Taran which was visited by K.P.S. Gill and other 'clean shaven official' a few days before Khalra was murdered in 1995.
The witness, who told T.N.S. after stepping out of the court that he was happy he had finally been able to tell the truth, said during his deposition that he was taken to the residence of the Tarn Taran S.S.P. by Jhabal Police Station S.H.O. Satnam Singh who was keeping Khalra locked in illegal confinement. He further alleged that Mr. 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, S.H.O. Satnam Singh told Khalra that he would have saved himself if he had listened to the 'advice' of the D.G.P.
Giving a lengthy deposition, the former S.P.O. said he came into contact with Mr. Ajit Singh Sandhu, who was a prime accused in the Khalra disappearance case before he committed suicide in 1997. He said when Sandhu was posted to Taran Tarn in 1995 he accompanied him as a gun man.
The witness said he was posted to the Jhabal police station in the police district subsequently and it was here that he was handed over the keys of a room in which Khalra was being kept.
The S.P.O. said his responsibility was to provide food to Khalra and it was during this time that D.S.P. Jaspal Singh and his bodyguard Arvinder besides Sarhali S.H.O. Surinderpal Singh, Manochahal S.H.O. Jasbir Singh, Prithipal Singh and Balwinder Singh Gora came to the police station in separate cars.
He alleged that the police officials started beating up Khalra and 'I was asked to get a glass of hot water by S.H.O. Satnam Singh.'
The S.P.O. said even as he was heating up the water he heard the sound of two shots and when he rushed towards the room, he was told by Satnam Singh to go where the cars were parked.
'Subsequently Balwinder Singh Gora reversed the Maruti van, in which he had come, and he and Arvinder took hold of Khalra's legs and arms to dump him into the boot of the vehicle. I saw blood oozing out of Khalra's chest,' he claimed. Kuldeep said while he sat in S.H.O. Satnam Singh's vehicle the two other cars containing the same police officials moved ahead.
At around 10 p.m. the cavalcade reached Harike where Arvinder and Balwinder Singh Gora took out Khalra's body and threw it into a canal, he alleged.
Telling a gory tale of brutality, the S.P.O. alleged that all cars proceeded to the Harike guest house after the act where other police officials, including Mr. Ajit Singh Sandhu, were present.
He said while the officers went inside he, Arvinder and Balwinder were given two bottles of liquor which they consumed in the lawns of the rest house.
Kuldeep Singh said he had a change of heart on the issue after listening to a human rights activist speaking about the disappearance of Khalra and decided to tell his tale. 'It has taken several years to do so during which time I have resisted severe pressure from the accused police officials,' he added.