A special CBI court sentenced 47 policemen to life imprisonment for shooting 10 Sikh pilgrims in cold blood by claiming they were terrorists, 25 years ago.
As per the court, on July 12, 1991, the cops stopped a bus filled with Sikh pilgrims in Pilibhit and forced 10 Sikh men to get off. A chargesheet said they were divided into groups, taken to different areas and killed in three fake encounters. The cops gunned down the Sikh men on the intervening night of July 12 and 13 in Bilsanda, Niuria and Pooranpur areas in Pilibhit.
The cops claimed the next day 10 Khalistani terrorists had been killed and that some of them in the bus had criminal cases against the and that they were armed. The CBI probed the case on the Supreme Court’s orders.
Fifty-seven policemen were charged in the case, but 10 have died during the course of the trial. The incident took place in that part of UP which had seen a surge in militant attacks.
On 1 April, 20 cops appeared before the court, which sent them to judicial custody. The court also issued non-bailable warrants against the remaining accused.
Meanwhile, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar has welcomed the CBI court’s verdict which held 47 cops guilty of staging three fake encounters in 1991.
“The judgement will bring relief to the victims’ families,” he said. Makkar said the conviction will also send a message that the police take the law into their hands.