47 cops awarded life term for killing 10 Sikhs in Pilibhit fake encounter

Lucknow:A CBI court yesterday convicted 47 policemen in the 1991 Pilibhit fake encounter in which Sikh pilgrims when they were returning by bus after visiting Nanakmatha, Patna Sahib, Huzur Sahib and other holy places, the 10 passengers were forced to step down from the luxury bus at 11 am; were taken away from the spot; gunned down on 12, 13 July 1991 mid night.
A charge-sheet said they were divided into groups, taken to different areas in a jungle and killed in cold blood.

The policemen claimed next day that 10 Khalistani terrorists had been killed. They claimed that some of the Sikhs in the bus had criminal cases and were armed.
The CBI investigated the case on the orders of the Supreme Court and said that the motive behind the killings was to earn awards and recognition for killing "terrorists".
Terming the encounter fake, CBI Special Judge Lallu Singh held the 47 policemen guilty. The court sentenced life term imprisonment.

Twenty policemen who were present in the court were sent to jail. The court has issued arrest warrants against the remaining 27 convicts who had retired from service during 25 years long trial have gone underground and many of them, taking long leaves, have gone missing.
The original charge sheet had held 57 policemen guilty. However, 10 of them died during the 25-year-long trial. In his order, the CBI special judge recounted the sequence of events. The incident took place on July 12, 1991, when the Uttar Pradesh police stopped a luxury bus in which a group of Sikh pilgrims were travelling.
The bus was stopped near Kachla Bridge in Badaun district where the police reportedly offloaded 10 pilgrims. They were made to board a mini bus. Later, the pilgrims were divided into three groups — two of four each and one of the remaining two. Separate police teams then took them to the jurisdiction of different police stations where they were killed in cold blood.
The coveted for awards for killing so-called dreaded terrorists was reportedly the motive behind the killings. Some of the Sikh youth had terror-related cases pending against them which the police had come to know. Following media reports questioning the police version of the encounter, Supreme Court advocate RS Sodhi had filed a PIL in the apex court seeking a CBI probe, which was ordered.

The charge sheet filed four years after the incident on June 12, 1995, had indicted 57 policemen under various sections of the IPC, including 302, for the fake encounter.

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