Sunday, Oct 02, 2022
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Confessions Of A Killer Cop

A former ‘encounter specialist’ reveals in chilling detail how the Punjab Police eliminated hundreds in staged killings at the height of Sikh militancy in the ’80s and ’90s. These shocking revelations come at a time when Punjab is in turmoil again.

Confessions Of A Killer Cop Confessions Of A Killer Cop

Recruited as a constable in the Punjab Police in 1987, Gurmeet Singh Pinky rose steadily through the ranks in the next few years, his speciality being encounter killings. It wasn’t an encounter killing, however, that saw him getting a life sentence for murder in 2001, but the random shooting down of one Avtar Singh Gola. He was quietly released last year and reinstated in service this May, but the order was overturned. Now contesting the reversal in court, Pinky has, in a taped confession, spilled the beans on his years with the Punjab Police. Here is his chilling description of how fake encounters were routinely used by Punjab Police units to quell militancy and the individual cases he was involved in.

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In March 1986, with militancy spiralling out of control in Punjab, Julio Rib­eiro, a Maharashtra-cadre IPS officer, was brought in as the Director General of Police. To take the militants head-on, he framed the “bullet for bullet” policy. Things spun further out of control, and President’s rule was reimposed in 1987. K.P.S. Gill was brought in to fine-tune anti-terrorist operations. In a no-holds-barred campaign lasting over five years, police scored major successes. A number of police officers too fell to terrorists’ bullets. After the 1992 polls, boycotted by the Akali Dal and in which turnout was thin, a Congress government led by Beant Singh took charge. He supported the anti-terrorist ops to the hilt, which led to his assassination in a bomb attack in Chandigarh in August 1995. However, when Gill handed over the Punjab DGP’s baton later that year, terrorism had been crushed. Punjab Police were credited with achieving the unthinkable. Since then peace has prevailed. But there was always talk of the brutal methods used. These voices have become louder, especially in the Sikh diaspora, with charges of human rights abuses all over the internet. Now, with the SAD-BJP government facing strong anti-incumbency, radical Sikh groups have come together to raise a litany of grievances. There are rumblings in the police too. The moot point is: What was the extent of human rights abuses? Will there be closure to Punjab’s turbulent chapter, now brought alive by the sensational confessions of a former Punjab cop? 

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