The Honorable Governor Punjab Raj Bhawan Chandigarh


The general assembly of the Punjab Sikh Lawyers’ Council (PSLC), in its emergency meeting on May 29, 1987, attended by its Executive Committee members, Presidents, and Secretaries of districts and sub divisional units, strongly condemned both, the State as well as individual terrorism, and further viewed that the bullet for bullet policy of the Government would not work in Punjab as a large-scale Army invasion of Punjab in 1984, followed by mapping operations could not bring peace in Punjab.

The house also protested with an equal force against the killing of Sikh youths by the security forces in fake police encounters, and called upon the government to immediately stop the false encounters.

The lawyers’ assembly urged the ruling establishment to see the Punjab Sikh struggle in its historical perspective and not that only “a handful of terrorists” were making trouble; and stressed upon the Union government to find out a just political solution to the Punjab tangle after restoring the existing provisions of the Constitution and the rule to the State, that is:

  1. Repeal of “Black Laws” and dismantling of the police state;
  2. Release of all detainees lodged in Punjab jails and elsewhere in India including Jodhpur under trials;
  3. Arrest and punishment to the guilty of November, 1984, Sikh carnage on the basis of public enquiry reports; and
  4. Compensation and rehabilitation to the Army deserters, police personnel and all victims of the State repression.

When the government fails to hold the scales of justice even and tilts it against a particular community, that community is very likely to be alienated from the national mainstream. When hooligans responsible for large scale carnage not only escape punishment but get government patronage, some aggrieved individuals may take it into their hands to dispense rough justice.

Mr. Justice S.M. Sikri has rightly concluded his Commission’s report saying, “If the Sikhs, the valiant guardians of our western marches, who have fully contributed to the independence of our country and to its progress and prosperity, feel injured or alienated, it weakens the very fabric of our society and vitality of our nation”.

Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees that no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to procedures established by law.

The Constitutional guarantee of life and liberty must be measured not by the scary stories that a controlled and guided media tells in trepidation but by the values inviolably inscribed in the Fundamental Law as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Even amidst the clash of arms the laws (of life and liberty) shall not be terrorized into silence. Freedom is what freedom does.

Certainly freedom seems to have lost battle. We must deserve freedom. A democratic country cannot digest the law of the jungle.


The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985, which has recently been made more stringent by incorporating certain new provisions under the President of India’s Ordinance, 1987, is worse than that of the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act, 1919, a ghastly measure notoriously known as Rowalt Act, that had provoked mass protests and to which Mahatma Gandhi had reacted sharply saying, “We shall refuse civilly to obey laws….”.

Justice is what Justice does; and a prosecutor, the police cannot become a judge, are two World known fundamentals of the legal jurisprudence. So, the State cannot take away the life of any person, howsoever dreaded’ anarchist he may be, without the ‘due process of law’. The ‘Rule of Law’ must prevail. It cannot be allowed in a civilized country that the law enforcing agencies to short cut the legal process and let the security forces become the summary executioners.

Amensty International, in a report, had blamed India for police brutality: “When India is counted among nations where human Tights are virtually nonexistent, then all talk of being largest democracy in the world begins to sound a bit hollow”.

A widely followed police practice In the country, as is rightly pointed out in the Amnesty International report, is to kill innocent people in police custody and encounters by labeling them as “dacoits”, “terrorists”, “extremists”, or “Naxalites”, Ryen in prisons and police lockups the subjects are not guaranteed the protection they deserve.

Thousands of Sikh youths are: rotting in jails. Many jail mates have not been tried for more than two or even three years. They are not being enlarged ion bail: Wherever trials have been held the inmates have not been permitted to organize their defense. Jodhpur under trials have not been released while the Amnesty International has asked the Union government to grant amnesty as most of them are innocent or start their under the ordinary law of the land after sending him back to Punjab: They are being kept as hostages.

All these instances are sufficient to show that the ruling politicians are on one side while the mainstream of the Sikhs are on the other. All this has thrown away the very ideals of democracy and there is no rule of law in India, worth the name.

The deliberate departures from the Constitution are so evident that the democratic rights and’ civil liberties of Sikhs have been constantly under attack for more than six years. Not to talk of Sikh massacres during Operation Blue Star in Punjab and Anti Sikh ‘violence of 1984 in Delhi and other parts of India, these attacks have further been stepped up in Punjab: Large scale arrests, tortures of youths and their parents, destruction of their houses and property, and fake encounters are the order of the day.

The very right to live; the night to freedom of faith, “expression, and association; the right to access to Rule of Law; the night of humane treatment in police custody Or prison etc. are under severe attack by the State today.

Security forces responsible for cold blooded murders are not only allowed to go scot free but such actions earn them handsome rewards from the State. Many alleged “terrorists” are being killed in fake encounters on the Indo Pak international border dubbing them as Pakistani intruders.

While painting Sikhs as “terrorists”, “extremists”, “traitors and “separatists”: the overzealous bureaucrats, brought at the helm of affairs to deal with the Punjab’s law and order situation, even did Not spare legal’ professionals, the advocates. Certain lawyers have been arrested and detained under the false charges of harboring “terrorists” under the Anti-Terrorist Act just to deter them from discharging their professional duttes fearlessly.

This note is intended to enlighten you, Sir, about certain neglected aspects of the Punjab problem. We are afraid, your government’s all out aggression on the Sikh youths will further complicate the situation; it will further Spread anti Sikh poison in the minds of non-Sikhs elsewhere in India if you don’t see the Punjab Problem in its true perspective.

Nearly 40,000 Sikhs have been killed during the past five years (20,000 25,000, according to Baba Amte, a Hindu reformer of Maharashtra). On the other hand, Targetable, more than 2,000 Hindus in Punjab, too, have been killed. These figures alone should tell their own tale as to who really is the “terrorist”. But the controlled and guided media has created a hue and cry to show that Hindus are being massacred and that Sikhs are the oppressors. We really regret this and feel sorry that the blood of any innocent person should have been shed.

The then Chief Minister Mr. Darbara Singh was quoted as saying: “You kill the killer, I’ll take the responsibility”. The present DGP, Mr. J.F. Ribeiro talked of “my own hit lists”. Police officers freely talk of suspected “terrorists” having been “captured or killed”.

Mr. Krishan Kant, writing in The Tribune, pleaded for disarmament of Sikhs and “talks”. In event of the Sikhs’ failure to talk, Mr. Kant darkly talked of possibility of a few Lakh Sikhs being killed by security forces on the pattern of Indonesian army’s action against Communists there. Worse still has been a statement by the present Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr. Balram Jakhar, that India could afford to do without a crore or so people to save it from disintegration.

No government has thought it fit to proceed against these gentlemen for encouraging violence. On the other hand whenever an opportunity arises the State has been languishing in jails for writing or making speeches and for no other crime.

The alleged Sikh “terrorism” itself is shown by the ruling classes as the source of Punjab problem. Actually the myth of Sikh “terrorism” was purposely invented only five years ago. The Punjab problem has been in existence for more than four decades.

As the Punjab problem is not only the law and order problem, it needs a political solution which is only possible if the state is given a fair amount of autonomy. But before the discussions on the question of autonomy could be started, the Central Government must ensure human rights for the Sikhs not only in Punjab but also in the other parts of the country.

We, however, don’t deny, for a moment, that public order is a high priority but the state terrorism is no answer to the problem. It is, certainly a blot on the constitutional Justice.

Sir, you will be failing in your duty to keep up the solemn pledge, taken by your Excellency in the name of God, to faithfully execute, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the Rule of Law, unless the fake police encounters are immediately stopped as was earlier done by the then Governor, Mr. B.D. Pande, after the dismissal of the Congress (I) government headed by Mr. Darbara Singh, and Article 21 restored to the people of Punjab.

We, therefore, approach you, that your government must keep off State terrorism and establish tule of law after immediately stopping the killing of Punjab youths in fake encounters as you, at present, head the state as well as the Government.

We do plead for the trial of all persons, high or low, quality prima facie, of offences under the ordinary law of the land.

Yours faithfully Deputationists, PSLC

Article extracted from this publication >>  July 31, 1987