PUNJAB: The post-mortem report that not a single bullet was found in the bodies of Gurmail Singh and Kuldeep Singh, who were shown as killed in cross-firing during an encounter in 1993, helped the C.B.I convict retired Punjab Police official, Harjinder Pal (pictured below), the then station house officer (SHO) of Ropar (Sadar).

The police had claimed that they had fired 163 bullets when ambushed by unidentified people.

The CBI special court in Mohali on Wednesday convicted and awarded life sentence to Harjinder Pal, who retired as DSP, after holding him guilty of murder. He was also fined ₹5 lakh. Two other accused, the then DSP Avtar Singh and ASI Bachan Dass, have been ordered to live as good character for one year after holding them guilty. Another three tried in the case were acquitted.

Dr Suman Setia, medical officer posted at the Ropar civil hospital, who conducted the post-mortems of Gurmail and Kuldeep, categorically told the court that no bullet was found in the bodies. The post-mortem report had said that the cause of death was hemorrhage and shock due to injuries to the head and lung.

C.B.I special Judge, NS Gill ruled:

“The fact that bodies did not had any bullet also proved that the version of Harjinder that both the accused died of bullet injury is false”

While convicting Harjinder  Pal, the court said:

“It is not the official act of the police to torture the accused in their custody and then kill them or prepare incorrect record in order to save themselves from their illegal act.”

The order also stated:

“ Bodies were cremated in haste and SI Harjinder wanted to conceal something from the parents of the deceased…both were in the custody of SI Harjinder and the story put forth by him is false and thus it is held that the deceased were tortured and killed.”

In May 1997, the C.B.I had registered a case against six cops on the directions of Punjab and Haryana high court after the families of Gurmail and Kuldeep sought a CBI investigation into the case.

An FIR registered on February 1, 1993, at Ropar (Sadar) police station stated that SHO Harjinder was taking Kuldeep Singh and Gurmail Singh, who were in police custody on charges of conspiring to blow up thermal plant, to make recovery of arms when they were ambushed by unidentified persons near Bhadal village in Ropar. The police had claimed that in the cross-fire between the police and the attackers, Gurmail and Kuldeep were killed.

The court also observed that 163 bullets are alleged to have been fired by the police and the empties should have been taken into possession, especially when the same was done for the bullets fired by the assailants. The court observed that:

“There is no document on record to show that after the death of Kuldip and Gurmail, the police ever searched the place where the two had concealed the explosives.”