1991 Pilibhit fake encounter: Court hands life term, penalties to 47 cops; compensation for victims’ families
Lucknow: A special CBI court on Monday awarded life imprisonment to 47 policemen found guilty in the 1991 Pilibhit fake encounter case in which 10 Sikh pilgrims were gunned down by Uttar Pradesh police 25 years ago.
The court had on April 1 held 47 policemen guilty held of the "fake encounter". Besides the jail term handed to the convicted policemen, Special CBI judge Lallu Singh today also imposed a fine on the erring policemen. While a fine of Rs 5 lakh has been slapped on Constables, Sub-Inspectors found guilty will have to shell out Rs 7 lakh while Inspectors will have to pay Rs 10 lakh in penalty.
The court also announced a Rs 14 lakh compensation to the families of the victims.
The CBI has investigated the case on the direction of the Supreme Court.
At an earlier hearing in the case, 20 of the accused policemen were sent into judicial custody while non-bailable warrants were issued against 27 other policemen found guilty of the cold-blooded murders in a single night. Ten policemen died during the period of investigation and trial in the case since then.
The case dates back to the year 1991 when Uttar Pradesh’s Terai region was witnessing a surge in militancy-related incidents. According to the prosecution, the incident occurred after a local Hindi newspaper published a report stating that some people involved in criminal activities were travelling with their family members in a bus.
According to CBI counsel Satish Jaiswal, the bus was on its way to Pilibhit on July 12, when it was stopped by a police team. Eleven Sikh men were allegedly dragged out of the vehicle while the other passengers, including women and children, were taken to a gurdwara in Pilibhit. The men were then made to sit in another vehicle.
Late in the evening, additional forces joined the police team and they divided the Sikh men in three groups. On the intervening night of July 12 and 13, the policemen gunned down the Sikh men in three encounters in the thickets falling under three different police station areas in Pilibhit.
The police then claimed that these men had criminal cases against them and claimed to have recovered arms and ammunition from their possession.
The matter came to light when R S Sodhi, a lawyer, filed a PIL before the SC which then handed over the probe to the CBI. The CBI found that the Sikhs were innocent and were killed in fake encounters in which station officers, sub-inspectors and constables of different police stations were involved.
In January 2003 the court framed charges against the accused, 10 of whom died during trial. The CBI also found that the police got the autopsy done on 10 of the bodies and got them cremated the same day. One body could not be found.
(With PTI inputs)