The recent three orders of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) – the Government of India human rights watchdog, extol the abuse and defy commiseration for humane law in the book of justice. It has been more than 10 years since the NHRC was created, around the time when the Indian police was carrying out mass cremations of innocent young Sikh men primarily between the ages of 20-35 in the northwestern state of Punjab. In the year 1995 a human rights activist, Jasswant Singh Khalra, submitted overwhelming evidence against Punjab police and nine officers responsible for the abhorrent crimes of illegal mass cremations of about 3000 innocent Sikh men in Amritsar and Tarn Taran district alone. It may be correct to classify this kind of genocide as generational gendercide; Khalra was later abducted by the Punjab police.
The Supreme Court of India ordered NHRC and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate cremations of Sikh men in Punjab (as reported by Khalra) in the year 1996 under the writ petition filed by Committee for Information and Initiative (CII) . It is no surprise that it took a good 10 years for the top Indian investigative agency to submit its report. The report submitted by the CBI indicated that 585 dead bodies were fully identified, 274 partially identified and 1238 were unidentified. In Punjab, most violations of human rights by the repressive tactics of the Indian security forces in pre-1990 era were the seed for the subsequent violations of human rights currently investigated by NHRC and the CBI.
Jaswant Singh Khalra
It has been more than ten years since Supreme Court of India issued a directive to the CBI and NHRC to investigate the mass cremations of Sikhs in Punjab. Until date neither the NHRC nor the CBI has accounted the individuals responsible for such brutal crimes that will never be forgotten. It is not surprising that the apex body of justice in India also seems helpless in front of political pressure to produce the names of police officers involved in these mass cremations.
The NHRC in its proceedings has held only Punjab police accountable for the flagrant violations of human rights. The report implies that something might have gone wrong with the Punjab police as a whole but not with its officers. Giving out the names of officers will surely bring there faces to the world, upsetting them to the point where they would also give the names of ministers, Intelligence Agency and government officers to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court must ensure that the identity of all people involved in these mass cremations is made public. The facts and circumstances related to these killings beckon a United Nations led investigation in Punjab. For these crimes justice can only be delivered by trying all responsible people in the court of law. Unfortunately, police officers involved in mass cremations are still free under the Indian system. Without investigating the identity of these police officers and passing jurisprudence on a single entity of Punjab police, the NHRC and CBI are on their way to “cremate” justice. It is appealed to all concerned people to extend there voices against this delay in justice otherwise the same tools of threat and injustice can tomorrow proliferate and reach all four corners of the world.