A rare documentary Film on the kids of Shaheed Singhs who killed in fake encounters
The term “police encounter” was often used during the Punjab insurgency between 1984 and 1995. During this time, Punjab police officials reported “encounters” to local newspapers and to the family members of those killed. The victim was typically a person whom the police believed to be a militant or involved in the militant separatist movement; proof of alleged militant involvement was rarely given. Such encounters have also been referred to as “staged encounters” or “fake encounters,” as these deaths were often believed to be the result of torture or outright execution. Ultimately, the practice became so common that “encounter” became synonymous with extrajudicial execution. The Punjab police specifically targeted the families of suspected militants in encounter killings to punish them.
It is alleged that police typically take a suspected militant into custody without filing an arrest report. If the suspect died during interrogation, security forces would deny ever taking the person into custody and instead claim that they were killed during an armed encounter. It is alleged that police would add weapons to the dead body to demonstrate cause for killing the individual, stage-managing the encounter, leading to the popular phrase “fake encounter killing.” Other popular accounts were that militants were staging an attack, or the suspect attempted to escape to recover militant arms while being escorted. At times, the Punjab police applied for and received production warrants, which allowed them to remove individuals accused in terrorism cases from jail. They often killed the detainees in fake encounters outside the jail. Sukhwinder Singh Bhatti, a criminal defense attorney in Punjab who defended such suspects, disappeared in May 1994 and is believed to have been killed by the police. Punjab’s largest encounter occurred on 7 January 1993 in the village of Chichhrewal, district Gurdaspur. Police “encountered” 11 Singhs.
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