Every day for the past year, Ensaaf has been sharing the profile of a person who was disappeared or unlawfully killed by India’s security forces in Punjab on the anniversary of the incident. From young children, to the elderly, these crimes against humanity impacted countless families and communities, the consequences of which still reverberate today.
The latest news and updates from Ensaaf.
Ensaaf works to address impunity for crimes against humanity in Punjab, with strategies and methods that also impact other regions suffering from gross human rights violations. We already provide technical assistance to human rights defenders working in India and beyond. We provide litigation support to cases in India that will set precedent for the entire country. And we share our data and resources publicly, so any community can learn from our experiences. Our work is innovative, timely, and makes an impact in Punjab and beyond.
Reason 10: We do 10x the work of other organizations with similar resources.
Reason 9: We called out Sumedh Saini for atrocities. Next year, we’ll focus on Izhar Alam.
Reason 8: Amar Kaur’s testimony and our Oral History Video Archive project.
Reason 7: We recently documented the case of 18-year old Kulwant Singh. Every case matters.
Reason 6: We are creating a permanent and thorough human rights archive.
Reason 5: We impacted key legal cases.
Reason 4: Our work is essential for survivors to be heard.
Reason 3: We have a proven track record and great partners.
Reason 2: We take charge of our own narrative.
Reason 1: We must protect the human rights of the world.
Ensaaf Launches Ground-Breaking Effort to Name Chief PerpetratorsAugust 30, 2019 in Documentation, Legal Advocacy, Press
On August 30, 2019, the International Day of the Disappeared, Ensaaf released its first in-depth perpetrator dossier of former Punjab Police Chief Sumedh Singh Saini. Our dossier includes a visualization identifying his victims, command history, awards, and known promotions. The dossier also includes news articles detailing a key legal case and disciplinary hearings, among other materials.
Map the Killings & Disappearances; Study 5100+ Victim ProfilesAugust 29, 2018 in Press
On the International Day of the Disappeared, Ensaaf invites you to view the first-of its-kind interactive data visualization site, mapping victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions in Punjab, India.
The interactive site compiles over 5,000 cases of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions perpetrated by India’s security forces, based on data collected over the past decade through survivor interviews. These cases can be viewed geospatially to observe trends across time and space, as well as through a gallery and individual victim profiles.
Rights Groups Call on UN Expert to Intervene in Torture of British NationalDecember 18, 2017 in Press
UN expert urged to call on India to immediately investigate alleged torture of Jagtar Singh Johal while in police custody.
Human rights organisations REDRESS and Ensaaf today have filed an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture in the case of Jagtar Singh Johal, “Jaggi”, a British man who has been detained without charge in India since 4 November 2017.
Mr. Johal asserts that during 5 to 9 November, Indian police tortured him during interrogation by means of electric shocks to his ears, nipples, and genitals, forcing his limbs into painful positions, and forced sleep deprivation. Mr. Johal’s lawyers in India report that at a secret court hearing on 10 November, witnesses observed that Mr. Johal had severe difficulty in standing or walking, and had to be assisted by police officers as he entered and left the courtroom.
Let the World Know about Charanjit Kaur’s 10-Year Old SonApril 24, 2017 in Press
Imagine sending your son to school one day, only for the police to gun him down. On November 14, 1989, Charanjit Kaur’s ten year old son Gurjit Singh went to school, never to return home alive.
The story of Charanjit Kaur is the story of many mothers in Punjab who saw their families destroyed during the Decade of Disappearances. Watch Charanjit Kaur’s video, as she revisits the events of that fateful day, describing in detail the killing of her young son and the effects on her family. She further shares her personal perspectives on justice and the Indian government.
- United Nations
On the 31st anniversary of the Indian Army assault on the Harmandir Sahib complex, Ensaaf releases A Song to Remember. Through A Song to Remember, Manbir Singh Mand and Jatinderpal Singh pay tribute to their three uncles, killed by Indian security forces during the Decade of Disappearances in Punjab (1984-1995).
On April 15, 2015, Ensaaf reached out to Congressmen and Senators on behalf of U.S. citizen Ravinderjeet Singh. The letter discusses the threats, false charges, illegal and arbitrary detention, and physical abuse suffered by Ravinderjeet Singh by government and security forces in Punjab, India. Ensaaf reached out to Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights & International Operations, Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
Dear Human Rights Supporter,
As President Obama visits India, The Hill has published an article by Ensaaf co-founder and co-director Sukhman Dhami calling on the U.S. to engage India on its poor human rights record. India has done little to redress widespread and systematic violations, especially in resource rich states and regions populated with religious and ethnic minorities. The U.S. can no longer ignore these violations and must encourage India to end impunity for gross human rights violations.
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Today, on Human Rights Day, we share this documentary to show you how your support helps us document abuses on the ground. Seeking Ensaaf was filmed by Andrew Heskett, Ryan Westra, and David Thompson, recipients of the Sikh Scholarship Program at Chapman University, in August 2013. It follows Ensaaf field workers as they document a case of extrajudicial killing in Punjab.
Ensaaf, The Sikh Coalition, and Human Rights Watch Urge President Obama To Support Justice for 1984 MassacresNovember 3, 2014
Ensaaf, in partnership with The Sikh Coalition and Human Rights Watch, sent a letter today to President Barack Obama, urging him to support justice for the 1984 anti-Sikh massacres, which claimed the lives of thousands of Sikhs throughout India 30 years ago.
Click the link to read the letter.
Thirty years have passed since the pogroms of Sikhs in India. During the first week of November 1984, police, politicians, and government leaders organized and implemented pogroms against Sikhs throughout the country. These massacres occurred ostensibly in response to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. The news footage released today by Ensaaf, and recorded by the Movement Against State Repression, takes us to the refugee camps where survivors display raw wounds, search for missing loved ones, and share accounts of the killings.
Ensaaf’s film The Last Killing won the Amnesty International Best Human Rights Short award at the Isle of Wight Film Festival 2014. The Last Killing will also be screening at the UNSPOKEN Human Rights Film Festival in Utica, NY from October 2 to 4, 2014, creating further awareness about the Decade of Disappearances in Punjab, India.
On the 25th anniversary of Kuljit Singh Dhatt’s custodial killing by the Punjab Police, Ensaaf presents A Labor of Love: Contesting Impunity, a multimedia tribute to the strength and resilience of one family and how they fought impunity for 25 years. This tribute includes a video based on eyewitness and family interviews, report, interactive timeline, and photo essay.
With your support, we have made it to the Supreme Court in the case of Punjab Police whistleblower Satwant Singh Manak, who is fighting for justice for ten victim families whose loved ones were unlawfully killed by the Punjab Police. On July 14, 2014, the Supreme Court granted Manak and the families leave to appeal the High Court judgment that had denied them a high level inquiry into the killings. The Supreme Court also granted the families leave to intervene. Experienced human rights attorney Nitya Ramakrishnan, assisted by Shadan Farasat, represented Manak and the families. Ensaaf provided extensive litigation support in drafting the appeal.
The BBC has highlighted Ensaaf’s work in a new article entitled “How Punjab’s missing thousands are being forgotten.” In this news story, Jastinder Khera reports from Amritsar on the case of Satwant Singh Manak, a family’s long wait for justice, and the Punjab government’s lack of action to end human rights abuses.
On the 30th Anniversary, Ensaaf presents an eyewitness account of the Indian Army assault on the Harmandir Sahib Complex in Amritsar, Punjab, from June 1 to June 6, 1984. This exclusive interview reveals how the Indian Army intentionally killed thousands of civilians and used excessive force during this assault.
Ensaaf is proud to present The Last Killing, an original documentary that chronicles police whistleblower Satwant Singh Manak’s fight for justice for the survivors of ten victims of unlawful killings. Today, May 23, marks 21 years since the Punjab Police filed false cases against Manak to punish him for standing up for human rights. On April 2, Ensaaf helped Manak file an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Victory: Judge Convicts Police Officers in Dhatt CaseMay 10, 2014
On May 9, 2014, Judge Poonam R. Joshi convicted three Punjab Police officers in the abduction and murder of Kuljit Singh Dhatt, 25 years ago. Additional Sessions Judge Joshi convicted recently retired Deputy Inspector General SPS Basra, retired Deputy Superintendent of Police Jaspal Singh, and retired Inspector Sita Ram under sections 364 (abducting in order to murder), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 218 (public servant fabricating record to save person from punishment) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Two other accused, Ajit Singh Sandhu and Sardool Singh, died during the trial. Despite the allegations of abuse against these officers, Basra has received the President’s Medal of Gallantry three times, and Sita Ram has received it once.
Jaspal Singh and Sita Ram are serving sentences in other murder cases—Jaspal Singh has a life sentence for his role in the abduction, torture, and unlawful killing of human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra. In this case however, four hours after announcing her verdict, the judge issued a disappointing ruling on their sentences. Their convictions carry concurrent sentences of five years, three years, and two years, plus a fine. The police officers will be eligible for parole after two years.
The Dhatt family will appeal the sentences.
On Wednesday, April 2, 2014, Punjab Police whistleblower Satwant Singh Manak filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of India in the case he is fighting on behalf of ten victim families whose loved ones were extrajudicially executed by the Punjab Police. Supreme Court attorney Shadan Farasat, High Court attorney Rajvinder S. Bains and Ensaaf drafted the special leave petition. The petition includes a detailed affidavit, detailing Manak’s personal experiences of police torture and his father’s death as a result of police torture.
In September 1989, the Dhatt family filed a habeas corpus petition with the Supreme Court. In 1993, a Court-appointed commission submitted its report, implicating five police officers in the unlawful killing of Kuljit Singh Dhatt: then-Deputy Superintendent of Police Ajit S. Sandhu (who committed suicide in 1997), Jaspal Singh (in life imprisonment for killing human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra), Sardul Singh (who died in 2008), S.P.S. Basra (who is currently a senior police officer in Punjab), and Sita Ram (in life imprisonment in a separate case).
The Supreme Court ordered the registration of a case in 1996, and these five police officers were arrested but later released on bail. The trial did not begin until 2012. It is expected to conclude by March 2014.
On November 26, 2013, the Punjab & Haryana High Court dismissed the lawsuit filed by police whistleblower Satwant Singh Manak, on behalf of ten victim families whose loved ones were extrajudicially executed by the Punjab Police. Not only did the Court refuse to order an inquiry into Manak’s allegations that he witnessed the Punjab Police torture and unlawfully kill these ten people, but it also fined Manak, ordering him to pay 2,000 rupees to each of the accused police officers. The Court’s decision represents a major step backwards in acknowledging and redressing the widespread and systematic abuses that occurred in Punjab from 1984 to 1995, and will further discourage other victims and police whistleblowers from coming forward with information on abuses.
Listen to Manak’s reaction to the Court’s decision at the link above.
Ensaaf is proud to announce the upcoming release of a new short film, The Last Killing, about a former policeman’s commitment to fight for justice. Satwant Singh Manak joined the Punjab Police with dreams of making his community safer. But in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Punjab Police terrorized its own citizens in the name of fighting an insurgency, committing systematic and wide scale torture, disappearances, and unlawful killings. Manak silently witnessed the torture and executions of 15 unarmed individuals at the hands of his fellow police officers. The last killing he witnessed was of Kulwant Singh, a teenager studying in 10th grade. This injustice and brutality awakened Manak. He quit his job and filed a case against his fellow police officers. That case covers ten of the victims.
His courage came at a great cost. The police tortured Manak, fatally tortured his father, and threatened his family, but Manak has continued the fight for justice for over 20 years.
Last week, Punjab Police Sub-Inspector Surjit Singh publicly stated that former Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Paramjit Singh Gill of Amritsar district ordered him to kill 83 men in faked encounters during the 1990s.
Surjit Singh's story is not a singular one. In this video, former Punjab Police officer Lakhwinder Singh describes his experiences in the police force, where he witnessed his colleagues performing torture. He himself narrowly escaped a faked encounter. Lakhwinder Singh describes, however, how the police did kill his father in a faked encounter.
On April 15 and 16, 2013, a coalition of U.S.-based organizations wrote to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, urging them to call on the Government of India to halt the imminent execution of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar. The letters were signed by Ensaaf, Jakara Movement, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Sikh Coalition, Sikh Research Institute, United Sikhs, and Voices For Freedom.
On the 25th anniversary of India’s suspension of the right to life in Punjab, the Christian Science Monitor has published an op-ed article by Ensaaf Co-Founder and Co-Director Sukhman Dhami.
In November 2011, Ensaaf partnered with international human rights organization REDRESS, to make a joint submission to the Universal Periodic Review on mass cremations, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings carried out in Punjab, India during the 1980s and 1990s. The Ensaaf/REDRESS joint submission discusses the failure of the Government of India to hold the individuals responsible for these violations to account and to provide victims with effective remedies and full reparation. It focuses on the mass cremations case.
Today, India’s Supreme Court upheld life imprisonment for five police officers convicted of the abduction and murder of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra. After 16 years of facing incredible obstacles, including the intimidation of witnesses, a prolonged trial, biased prosecutors, and jail-breaks by a convicted officer, this case represents a victory for human rights in India.
On November 2, Ensaaf launched an ad campaign in the San Francisco Bay Area’s metro system, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the November 1984 pogroms of Sikhs in India. On the same day, the Mercury News also published Ensaaf’s op-ed discussing the anniversary of the pogroms and its continuing impact on India and even the Bay Area.
Time Magazine, in an article released today, quoted Ensaaf Co-Director Jaskaran Kaur on the total lack of justice for survivors of the November 1984 pogroms of Sikhs in India.
New Statistical Analysis Points To Widespread Human Rights Violations by Indian Government Authorities in PunjabJanuary 26, 2009
Ensaaf and the Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) released a report today presenting verifiable quantitative findings on mass disappearances and extrajudicial executions in the Indian state of Punjab, contradicting the Indian government's portrayal of the Punjab counterinsurgency as a successful and “humane” campaign.
The Indian government must take concrete steps to hold accountable members of its security forces who killed, “disappeared,” and tortured thousands of Sikhs during its counterinsurgency campaign in Punjab, Human Rights Watch and Ensaaf said in a new report released today.
A division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court issued an oral judgment in the appeals relating to the convictions of six police officers for their roles in the abduction and murder of human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra. The High Court upheld the convictions of Punjab police officers Jaspal Singh, Satnam Singh, Surinderpal Singh, Pritpal Singh, and Jasbir Singh, and acquitted Amarjit Singh of all charges.
Physicians for Human Rights and Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture issued a letter in response to the NHRC’s order rejecting its independent report and attacking its credibility.
High Court Case Filed Against Former Police Chief KPS Gill for Murder of Human Rights Activist Jaswant Singh KhalraSeptember 6, 2006
Mrs. Khalra, represented by High Court attorney Rajvinder Bains, filed the petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) refused to investigate and prosecute Mr. Gill. Ensaaf worked with Mr. Bains to draft the petition and apply the international law doctrine of superior responsibility.