AMRITSAR: On 29 September 2018, a CBI Court awarded life terms to two former Punjab Police personnel in the case of enforced disappearance of a 22-year-old Sikh youth in Amritsar twenty-six years earlier.

The decision came three days after another CBI court awarded life sentence to two former Police officers for the fake encounter of a Sikh teenager in Amritsar twenty-six years ago.

“You will spend the rest of your life in jail,” said additional district and sessions judge Harjeet Singh, while awarding life sentence to inspector Gian Singh and sub-inspector Narinder Singh Malhi under section 364 (abduction for murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

The court has also imposed a fine of Rs 60,000 each on the duo to be paid to the family of Harjit Singh, alias Gora, who has been missing since he was abducted by the cops from his house at Patti Balol village in Amritsar’s Sultanwind.

As per the CBI, on 11 November 1992, sub-inspector Malhi and his team came to Gora’s house around 3 am and forcibly bundled him and his father Balbir Singh into a jeep after blindfolding them and drove away. While Balbir Singh was taken to the Sultanwind police station, Harjit Singh Gora was taken away to some undisclosed location, said the CBI.

A day later, Balbir Singh was shifted to Vijaynagar police post under the Sadar police station jurisdiction. Later, Gian Singh, then in-charge of the post, kept Balbir Singh in illegal detention in a godown near the police post for 20 days.

“Balbir Singh was released on intervention of co-villagers. There is no information about Harjit Singh’s whereabouts to date,” said advocate Satnam Singh who represented the complainant.

“This is a case of enforced disappearance, where a state agency picked up a man and does not even acknowledge the same. It is in fact worse than the murder,” said advocate RS Bains, another counsel.

A CBI court has also dismissed the appeal of sub-inspector Narinder Singh Malhi and two others against a three-year jail term awarded to him by a Patiala court in 2016 for forcibly tattooing ‘jeb katris’ on the forehead of four women pickpockets.

The two other cops convicted for the 1993 crime are former superintendent of police Sukhdev Singh Cheena and assistant sub-inspector Kanwaljit Singh. Cheena and Malhi, posted in Amritsar, had detained four women on the charge of stealing a Canadian national’s purse.

“Justice has been done,” said Harjit Singh’s father, Balbir Singh, 80, after the verdict on Saturday. “Mera putt ta wapas nahi auna, par aj insaaf hoya (my son will not come back but finally justice is done,” said Balbir Singh, whose statement helped in nailing inspector Gian Singh and sub-inspector Narinder Singh Malhi.

Balbir Singh alleged that Punjab Police had killed Harjit Singh’s brother too in a fake encounter. “Mera ghar barbad kar dita inha ne, mere do-do jwan putt maar te, (they have ruined my family, killed my two sons).” Balbir Singh attended court for every hearing.

“I made first representation to the DGP on December 20, 1992. They offered me money. On refusal, I was threatened. The determination to get justice kept me going,” said Balbir Singh.