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Punjab Police Admits Using "Cats" (Militants to Counter Militants)


The Tribune, Chandigarh, Feb. 20, 2006

Photo: D.G.P. S.S. Virk

Officially admitting to the 'operational secret' of using militants to counter other militants, the Director-General of Punjab Police, Mr S.S. Virk, today admitted to the existence of Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi, a former militant, who was earlier declared dead in an encounter with the police.

He went on to add that youths like Sukhi, who had been swept away by circumstances during those days, had been rehabilitated with the full knowledge of the various chief ministers and also governors. There were nearly 300 more such former militants, who helped the cops during the 'war against terrorism' in the state, he added.

When pressed by mediapersons, as to how many such militants were actually used as 'cats' - a word given to militants who were used against other militants, the D.G.P. said why jeopardise their lives as they had helped the nation in this fight against terrorism. 'They had to be given a second life under assumed identities, and dozens of such unsung heroes who had helped the police are now living a peaceful life in villages,' Mr. Virk said, while justifying the rehabilitation of such former militants at a press conference here. A discreet watch was kept on their activities even now, he added.

Mr. Virk said the police would never reveal the identity of other such former militants who had helped the police during the tough phase of terrorism.

The D.G.P. said such militants were won over by the police and then used in counter-insurgency operations. These were tactics used in extraordinary situations and they could not just go by the rule-book in such a scenario. Mr. Virk denied reports that Sukhi was a 'big-time' terrorist. 'He was just on the fringes,' he said.

During interrogation and later meetings Sukhi revealed that he had been forced into terrorism, the D.G.P. added. 'I had known him since he was a matriculate and who had gone onto do his graduation while he was jailed for some small-time criminal activity. He provided us with vital information on important people who were running the operations for terrorist organisations.'

Admitting that the police had to cremate a number of unidentified bodies following different encounters with militants, Mr. Virk said one such dead body was claimed to be that of Sukhi, who was subsequently declared dead. Sukhi, he said had been living outside Punjab for more than a decade.

The D.G.P. had convened a press conference in the wake of a news report in a section of the media that Sukhi, who was declared dead in an encounter, was residing with his wife in Jalandhar under the assumed name of H.S. [Harjit Singh] Kahlon.

Mr. Virk admitted that he now feared threat to the life of Sukhi after the revelations. The D.G.P. had also invited his former boss, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, at the press conference. Mr. Gill, largely credited with wiping out terrorism in Punjab, said there was no mention of terrorism in our Constitution. Hence, there were no laws to deal with such situations. Punjab, he said, could not have had a political solution. Armed resistance had assumed alarming proportions. According to him, terrorism in Punjab could never be revived.

Earlier, Mr. Virk vent his ire on the media blaming it for exposing Sukhi and also throwing caution to the wind in an effort to outdo one another. 'I wish I was running a T.V. channel,' he said, adding, 'Some of you may have been in the K.G. class when we were fighting this battle.'