Sardar Khalra was a Sikh human rights activist who was murdered in the custody of the Punjab police.
Mr. Khalra was a Bank Director before getting into human rights in Amritsar. His two colleagues disappeared. He found out by word of mouth that their bodies were burned at Durgyana Mandar. He went to find out more information there. The employees provided a register to Mr. Khalra, where he could check to see if the name was there. Glancing over the register Mr. Khalra noticed something that was a bit out of place. Besides finding the names of his two colleagues, he found thousands of names of people that were said to be (Lawaras or missing). The names had all sorts of information written next to them such as fathers name, height, weight, age, hair colour and length, where they lived, area where they were killed, how they died, addresses of their homes and which police officer brought them in. They had to register these names in order to get wood from the municipal corporation to burn the bodies. This is where those that would want this information not to be known overestimated themselves. They did not think that anyone would be able to obtain the register with the thousands of names.
After viewing the register, Mr. Khalra cautiously made a photocopy of the register. He then used an excuse to go to Pati and Tarn Taarn and made photocopies of all those registers from there as well. Even though they had all the information of the person, they still said the body’s location was unknown. After getting the copies of the register, Mr. Khalra realized that if he showed the register to people in Punjab or the Punjab government that he would run into a lot of trouble and his voice might be silenced very quickly. It was because of this Mr. Khalra decided to publish the records outside of India.
Mr. Khalra went to Canada in June and went back to Punjab July 27. There he distributed the records to all the Gurudwaras along as well as to the Parliament. He knew that when he went back to Punjab, he would be killed, however, he decided that he would get the records out to as many people as he could. He needed to tell the people how the Punjab police burned 15 to 20 bodies together and then threw the half burned bodies into the closest river.
It was after Mr. Khalra spoke up against the police that the public stopped being afraid to speak. It was after Mr. Khalra spoke up that the police started being afraid. Mrs. Khalra believes that the abductions and murders of Sikh men stopped after the abduction of Mr. Khalra.
The Khalra family received a lot of support from Sikhs living abroad, however, the support that they had thought they would receive from Mr. Badal and the Sikhs from Punjab was non existent. Mrs. Khalra had thought that they would receive support from Mr. Badal since he had mentioned this issue in his speech when he was running for elections. However, when he was approached about this issue, he told Mrs. Khalra to forget the whole thing. He said that she had spent so much money already, that she had kids to raise and to live her own life now.
She had to leave the job she had held as a librarian at a University and now is unable to get another job even though she has applied many times. However, she was told by the administration of Mr. Badal that she does not have to work if she does not want to. If she stops pursuing the case they will help her raise her children.
The case still continues today, and hopefully the government will realize that if this happened in 3 towns that it is very possible that it was happening in other cities in Punjab.