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.
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.
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.
(Amritsar, Chandigarh, California) On Human Rights Day, 10 December,Khalra Mission Organisation, the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, andEnsaafrelease a new web-based human rights tool to help empower victims of government abuse to report their experiences atReportPunjabPolice.org.
We request anyone with information on human rights violations to use this tool to document abuses perpetrated by security forces in Punjab. The data collected throughReportPunjabPolice.org, in Punjabi or English, will shine a spotlight on the officials and institutions that violate human rights.
Today, on the 20th anniversary of the police abduction of human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra, Ensaaf released A Light of Justice: Commemorating Jaswant Singh Khalra. This 30-minute film contains interviews with Khalra’s family, as well as archival footage of Khalra when he was investigating secret cremations and disappearances in Punjab.
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.
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, 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.
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 Case
May 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.
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.
In November 2011, Ensaaf partnered with international human rights organization REDRESS, to make a joint submission to the Universal Periodic Review on mass
1990s. The Ensaaf/REDRESS joint submission discusses
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.
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.
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.
Rajvinder S. Bains: This procedure has failed completely.
Rajvinder S. Bains, a human rights attorney in the Punjab & Haryana High Court for over 20 years, discusses his experiences with the High Court in cases filed on behalf of victims of disappearances or extrajudicial executions. (Oct. 2007)
Mohinder Singh: What justice can we get from here?
Mohinder Singh discusses the abduction and murder of his son by the Punjab police and his pursuit of numerous avenues of justice. (Oct. 2007)
Tarlochan Singh: A Mockery of Justice
Tarlochan Singh describes his son Kulwinder Singh’s abduction by the Punjab police, and his 18-year continuing legal struggle for justice for Kulwinder Singh’s extrajudicial execution. (Oct. 2007)
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Gurcharan Singh and his Desire for Justice
In an SBS Dateline program on Punjab, Geoff Parish discusses the Punjab governments offer of compensation to 17 families, with no investigation or admission of liability by the state, in the Punjab mass cremations case. Gurcharan Singh rejected this offer. (Apr. 2002, Uploaded with permission from SBS.)
Jaswant Singh Khalra: Investigations into Illegal Cremations
An SBS Dateline program on Punjab describes human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalras discovery of the Punjab polices use of secret cremations to hide evidence of extrajudicial executions. The clip includes an interview with human rights activist Ram Narayan Kumar. (Apr. 2002, Uploaded with permission from SBS.)
A Witness Among the Bodies: Surviving Bluestar
On the 30th Anniversary of Operation Bluestar, Ensaaf presents an eyewitness account of the Indian Army attack on The Harmandir Sahib Complex in Amritsar, Punjab, from June 1 and June 6, 1984. This exclusive interview reveals how the Indian Army intentionally killed thousands of civilians and used excessive force during this assault.
Ensaaf Speaks with Manak about Court Decision, November 28, 2013
On November 26, 2013, the Punjab & Haryana High Court allowed the appeal of the State of Punjab and reversed and nullified the decision of the Single Judge directing investigation by the CBI. Not only did it refuse to order an inquiry into Satwant Singh Manak’s allegations that he witnessed the Punjab Police torture and unlawfully kill ten people, it also fined Manak, ordering him to pay 2,000 rupees to each of the accused police officers.
A Labor Of Love: Contesting Impunity
On July 23, 1989, Punjab Police officers abducted, tortured, and unlawfully killed 35-year old Sikh community leader Kuljit Singh Dhatt. For 25 years, his family has relentlessly pursued justice, attending over a hundred hearings, petitioning various courts and commissions, and enduring police harassment and intimidation of witnesses. On May 9, 2014, a judge convicted three police officers of abduction in order to murder Kuljit Singh Dhatt, sentencing them to a mere five years. The legal battle continues, now in the higher courts.
Navkiran Kaur Khalra:
“We are proud of what our father did.”
Navkiran Kaur Khalra, daughter of murdered human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra, recounts her family’s struggle for justice and her father’s discovery of thousands of killings and secret cremations by the Punjab police to hide evidence of wrongdoing. (Oct. 2007)
Jaswant Singh Khalra: Last International Speech – The Struggle for Truth
In his last speech made to a Canadian audience, Jaswant Singh Khalra discusses his investigations into the thousands of illegal killings and secret cremations by the Punjab police and his readiness to die to expose the truth about these crimes. Jaswant Singh Khalra begins his speech with a moving fable about the struggle of truth and light against expanding darkness. He recounts how he traced the fate of many disappeared Sikhs to Amritsar’s municipal cremation grounds. Through government records obtained from these municipalities, Khalra exposed a detailed history of systematic human rights violations in which security forces abducted, murdered, and secretly cremated an estimated 6,017 Sikhs in Amritsar district alone–then one of 13 districts in Punjab–from 1984 to 1995. (Apr. 1995)
Paramjit Kaur Khalra on Impunity in Punjab
In this video, Paramjit Kaur Khalra describes the need for a truth commission to redress the thousands of disappearances and killings in Punjab, India perpetrated during the counterinsurgency of 1984 to 1995. In September and October 1995, Indian security forces illegally detained, tortured, and killed her husband, human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra, for his work uncovering over 2,000 cases of extrajudicial executions and secret cremations in Amritsar district alone. On November 4, 2011, India’s Supreme Court upheld life imprisonment for five officers involved in Khalra’s unlawful abduction, torture, and killing. Mrs. Khalra continues to seek justice for the all victims of illegal killings and disappearances.
On Human Rights Day, we share this documentary to show you how your support helps us document abuses on the ground. Seeking Ensaaf, filmed by Andrew Heskett, Ryan Westra, and David Thompson, recipients of the Sikh Scholarship Program at Chapman University, in August 2013, follows Ensaaf field workers as they document a case of extrajudicial killing in Punjab. Thank you for joining us on this journey to end impunity and achieve justice for the disappearances and unlawful killings of the Decade of Disappearances in Punjab.
A Light of Justice: Commemorating Jaswant Singh Khalra
On the 20th anniversary of the police abduction of human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra, Ensaaf released A Light of Justice: Commemorating Jaswant Singh Khalra. This 30-minute film contains interviews with Khalra’s family, as well as archival footage of Khalra when he was investigating secret cremations and disappearances in Punjab.
Twenty years after Khalra’s martyrdom, the architects of the widespread and systematic human rights abuses in Punjab remain free. The Indian government is no closer to bringing Gill and the other perpetrators to justice for organizing Khalra’s – and thousands of other innocent Sikhs’ – death.
Please watch and share this film via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
The Last Killing
Satwant Singh Manak joined the Punjab Police to provide his family with a stable income. But in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in response to an insurgency, Indian security forces committed systematic and widespread torture, disappearances, and unlawful killings in Punjab. Manak silently witnessed the torture and executions of 15 unarmed individuals at the hands of his fellow police officers. The killing of Kulwant Singh, a teenager who had passed 10th grade, deeply affected Manak. No longer able to suppress his conscience and the horror of what he witnessed, he resigned from his job and filed a case against his fellow police officers. That case covers ten of the victims.