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Justice denied – Events of Saka Nakodar (4 Feb. 1986) tell the tales of impunity in Punjab

February 4, 2014 | By

Nakodar, Punjab: Thirty two year ago on this day four innocent Sikh young men were murdered by Punjab police while they were peacefully protesting against the desecration of Shri Guru Granth Sahib.

“The Guru Granth Sahib is truly unique among the world’s great scriptures. It is considered the Supreme Spiritual Authority and Head of the Sikh religion, rather than any living individual.”

Saka Nakodar:

Martyrs of Saka Nakodar (4 February, 1986)

On the 4’th February 1986, Sikh Student Federation (SSF) members gathered in Nakodar to collect the Saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji which were desecrated and burnt in Shri Guru Arjan Dev Gurudwara, Nakodar on 2’nd February 1986. The police opened fire at this unarmed and peaceful gathering of Sikhs. By this unprovoked and unjustified firing by police, Bhai Ravinder Singh Littran, Bhai Harminder Singh Sham Chaluper, Bhai Baldhir Singh Fauji and Bhai Jhalman Singh Rajowal Gorcian, were killed.

Inquiry report never made Public; Culprits never brought to Justice:

The Punjab government has failed to table the Justice Gurnam Singh’s judicial inquiry report till today.

The miscreants who were involved in the desecration of Shri Guru Granth Sahib or the killer cops who gunned down the innocent Sikhs were never brought to justice.

It is a shame that former DGP Mohammed Izhar Alam who was directly involved in these killings is the leader of so called pro-Sikh ruling party Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and his wife is sitting MLA of Badal government.

On February 02, 2011, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh held a ceremony at Akal Takht to declare Bhai Ravinder Singh Littran, Bhai Harminder Singh Sham Chaurasi, Bhai Baldhir Singh Fauji and Bhai Jhalman Singh Rajowal Gorcian, as martyrs of Sikh religion who gave their lives for the honor of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and had called upon the SGPC to install the portraits of all the four martyrs at Central Sikh Museum (Amritsar). The SGPC has failed to install the portraits.

Convention held to mark the memory of Sikh martyrs:

A convention in memory of these four martyrs was organized at Gurdwara Bohdan Wala Littran, Tehcil Noormahal, District Jalandhar, Punjab on February 4, 2014 at 10 am. Sikh sangat and various Sikh personalities joined the convention to tell the deaf ears that fire is still burning and the families of deceased Sikh youth continue to suffer the chronic pain from their unhealed wounds.

The chronology of the firing events:

  • Unarmed devotees from ten villages, who wanted to visit Gurdwara and to see the burnt “Birs” for themselves were encouraged by the Police to move to the outskirts of the town. When the devotees reached a place from where they could not safety escape or disperse, they were subjected to indiscriminate firing. It is a fact that the firing was without warning, without neither resorting to Lathi-charge nor using the riot guns. However, only two or three tear gas shells were exploded, just before the firing, killing four persons and injuring many.
  • Ravinder Singh of Litran, a close relative of Jathedar Harcharan Singh Mahalon, was killed on the spot.
  • Inspector, Jaskirat Singh, shot Harminder Singh with his service revolver from close range when the boy was taking shelter. It is a cold-blooded murder by a public servant supposed to be responsible for the protection of lives and liberty of the public.
  • The people ran helter-skelter. The police ran amuck and continued chasing the fleeing people beyond two kilometres from the place of occurrence, beating them and firing upon them incessantly.
  • Jasbir Singh Jassi, gunman of DSP Nakodar, opened a burst with his sten-gun. Just after, two dead bodies (Baldhir Singh Fauji of Ramgarh and Jhilman Singh of Rajowal Gorcian) were lifted by the people from near the house of Priti Balmiki where one bullock was killed and the other disabled with bullets.
  • This tragedy could have been averted had the administration listened to the request of the devotees for allowing only five representatives to be escorted to the Gurdwara.
  • The police firing on the order of SP (Operation) Ashwani Kumar Sharma, SP of CRPF even did not spare the two bullocks of poor Pritu Balmiki causing a loss of about Rs. 5000. Even a bullet mark on the wall inside his compound could be seen. The mental set up of the police force can be gauged from an instance wherein on February 4, on Swaran Singh s/o Sohan Singh of Sherpur village was severely beaten with rifle butts and lathis when he was giving water to an injured person. His HMT watch was taken away by a Sikh Policeman. He was arrested and thrown in a vehicle to be put in the lockup. Neither he was given any medical aid nor was he produced in any Court till his release on February 6 after 9.00 pm
  • The police, para-military forces and the mounted police continued firing while chasing the people up to Sherpur and Hussainpur villages. They raided and searched the houses of Sherpur village and broke open the doors. They gave severe beatings with rifle butts and lathis to whoever came in their way. They arrested more than 20 persons from Sherpur village including Mr. Sukhdev Singh Sandhu, Advocate, who was sitting with Jathedar Iqbal Singh, in his house.
  • The mounted police did not stop firing even at the farm housed 2 KM away from the place of occurrence. According to the residents of Sherpur village a reign of terror was let loose. They showed several spent bullet cartridges, said to have been fired by the Mounted Police in the fields near Hussainpur. They also showed bullet marks on the walls of the houses of the other side of the village. The police registered a case FIR No 54 dated 4.2.86 under Sections 307/362/427/332/188/148/149, 511 of IPC and 25/27 of Arms act, at Police Station (PS) Nakodar against the victims of Police high-handedness.
  • There is another instance wherein an old Akali worker Roshan Singh of Mehmonwal was beaten so recklessly when the police ran amuck that his legs and arms got multiple fractures. Roshan Singh was travelling by his Scooter No PAJ-6923 near Hussainpur more than two kilometres away from the occurrence when he was given a thrashing and his scooter was taken away by the Police. It was revealed that this man was beaten up because he had an altercation with Surjit Singh, SP (D) a day earlier when he blamed the police for conniving with the culprits of the sacrilege of Holy Granth.
  • The role of Local Administration i.e. SDM Surjit Singh Rajput and DSP Gopal Singh Ghuman virtually eclipsed at 5.00 pm on 2.2.1986 when the SSP Mohd Izhar Alam and the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Mr. Darbara Singh “Guru,” took direct charge of the situation reaching Nakodar, following a telephone message from the SDM.
  • When the situation became tense in the evening, the SDM suggested to the ADC and the SSP to round up the subject, Mr. Romesh Chopra, to defuse the situation. But the suggestion was rejected. Thereafter, the ADC and the SSP took command of the situation.
  • The SDM revealed that he received a telephone message from Mr. Balwant Singh, the Finance Minister; when he was sitting with the SP (D) Surjit Singh at the police station asking him to hand over the dead bodies to their relatives. The SDM replied that the police was reluctant to do so and he may talk to SP (D) who was sitting next to him. But the Minister refused to talk to the Police. The SDM further revealed that the ADC and the SSP remained in constant touch with Chandigarh. He also disclosed that three dead bodies had been en identified by the February 4 night.
  • Despite the identification of the dead bodies, the administration did not hand over bodies to their relatives. The dead bodies were cremated by the administration as “unidentified and unclaimed”. Even the post-mortem examination was conducted at midnight.

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