AMRITSAR: A magisterial inquiry has indicated the police for the mysterious disappearance of the two Sikh youths who were taken in custody without any case against them.

The whereabouts of these namesakes Harpal Singh belonging to Gaggerwal and Waring Mohanpur villages in Tar Taran area has not been known even seven months after they were picked up by the Amritsar police in the city.

The probe conducted by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate Mr LD. Hans has clearly established that the youths were rounded up by the police without the registration of any case against them.

Mr Hans has recently submitted his report to the Deputy commissioner Mr Sarabjit Singh who has reportedly accepted the findings.

During the conduct of the probe lasting nearly five months Mr Hans cross examined more than two dozen independent witnesses and junior police personnel. He also collected circumstantial evidence from various sources before reaching the conclusion.

However surprisingly enough none of the police officials including Mr Sanjeev Gupta SSP connected with the disappearance of the youths turned up before the inquiry officer despite repeated summons.

The report has noted that the police had failed to establish that the youths were let off. It has also not pin-pointed the responsibility on any official.

The magistrate has reportedly suggested a further probe to find out the whereabouts of the youth.

‘The parents of the two youths had been moving from pillar to post to know the whereabouts of their wards both of whom were married and had one child each.

According to the complaints made to the Deputy Commissioner and later to Mr Hans both youths were picked up from the house of a bank manager in the Mohni Park Jocality near Khalsa College in the afternoon of October 3 last year. The police had taken them into custody following a tip off from a police cat during search operations

The two youths according to their parents had gone to the city on October 3 to attend to domestic chores and had not been involved or wanted in any case. Harpal Singh of Mohanpur was employed in a private firm at Tarn Taran.

The next day (October 4) there was a report published in the newspaper about two unidentified youths having been killed in an encounter with the police in the Sultanwind locality during the intervening night.

Sensing foul play the parents approached a senior Akali Leader Mr Harbhajan Singh Sandhu who enquired in this regard from the local police. It at first denied having taken any Harpal Singh in custody But later a senior officer confirmed that the two were let off after a few hours of detention.

Enquiries with the police about the identity of the youths killed in the city on the night of October 3 did not yield anything. Mounting public pressure made the police to show the photographs of the killed unidentified militants whose bodies were cremated without being declared unclaimed for at least 24 hours.

The parents recognized the photographs as those of their missing wards. The police however insisted that the youths were not named Harpal Singh and refused to show the clothes of the deceased to the parents.

The matter was taken up with the Deputy Commissioner by Mr Sandhu and several local leaders but nothing came out. It was at the intervention of the then state Chief Secretary Mr.S.L.Kapoor that a magisterial inquiry was ordered into the episode.

Several eyewitnesses who deposed before Mr Hans said that the youths were apprehended in full public view and severely beaten up before being bundled into the police vehicles

The inquiry report has noted that as such the police did not record the rounding up of the two youths nor was any weapon recovered from them the police could not relate the place and time of their “release” and did not even mention at whose guarantee they were let off.

Mr Sanjeev Gupta maintained that he had not so far received a copy of the report He however insisted that the said youths were let off by the police. The police he told this correspondent did not maintain a record of each and every person apprehended for questioning.

Instead of further investigating the matter as Suggested by Mr Hans the administration is learnt to have closed the matter The Deputy Commissioner has written to the parents of the youths merely informing them that the enquiry could not trace their sons and that they were not in police custody.

The parents of the youths have now decided to file a suit in the Punjab and Haryana High Court to get justice.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 10, 1991