Summaries of Cases of Illegal Cremations Included in the CBI Lists 205
SUMMARIES OF CASES OF
ILLEGAL CREMATIONS INCLUDED
IN THE CBI LISTS
The report of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) about the illegal
cremations carried out by the Punjab police in Amritsar district, submitted
to the Supreme Court of India in December 1996, includes three lists.
They show 582 fully identified, 278 partially identified, and 1238
unidentified cremations. The Committee for Coordination on
Disappearances in Punjab (CCDP) has acquired specific information
about the personal and political background of 672 of the cases included
in the CBI’s lists and the circumstances under which they disappeared
or died before getting cremated by the police. The information draws
from 513 out of 889 incident reports, which the CCDP has been able to
collect in Amritsar district by following the methology described in the
chapter 3. We present here the summaries of these case studies. As
pointed out in the chapter four, the CBI has repeatedly used wrong
names and incorrect spelling of persons and villages mentioned in its
lists. However, while referring to the entries in its lists, we have no choice
but to reproduce the names and the spelling as recorded in them. Our
case summaries are based on the incident report forms that have been
filled by the CCDP’s volunteers during their field trips and in the presence
of the victim families. In the text of our summaries, we use the names
and the spelling recorded in the CCDP’s incident-report forms. The
divergence between the names and the spelling in the CBI’s entries and
our case summaries is regretted.
206 Reduced to Ashes
Summaries of Cases of Illegal Cremations Included in the CBI Lists 207
THE LIST OF IDENTIFIED BODIES
Cremations in the Police District of Taran Taran
1. Under serial no. 2/002, the list identifies the cremation of Acchar Singh, s/o
Tara Singh, r/o Kamboke village in Patti sub-division of Amritsar district, carried
out by head constable Vishwamitra of Patti police station on 21 July 1984, listed
under FIR no. 223/84 . The autopsy report is marked as SKG-16/84. The cause of
death is given as “police encounter”.
The CCDP has acquired the following information through its incident report
form no. CCDP/01540. Dalbir Kaur, the victim’s widow, is the main informant.
Twenty-five-year-old Acchar Singh, son of Tara Singh and Dhanto, was a resident
of Mari Kambo Ki village under Khalra police station in Patti sub-division of
Amritsar district. A young farmer Acchar Singh was married to Dalbir Kaur and had
two young sons, Sukhdev Singh and Gurdev Singh, who are now 20 and 18.
Acchar Singh, a baptized Sikh, was a supporter of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
After Operation Blue Star in June 1984, the army launched another operation, code
named “Wood Rose”, directed against Bhindranwale’s sympathizers in the countryside.
Acchar Singh became a suspect around this time.
Soldiers of the Indian army , assisted by the Punjab police, began to raid
Acchar Singh’s house. In his absence, the police picked up his brother and harassed
other family members. The family then decided to produce Acchar Singh through
members of the village council and other elders, before Station House Officer (SHO)
Pooran Singh of Khalra police station. The SHO had promised to proceed in a legally
appropriate manner, but Acchar Singh was declared killed in an “encounter”, near
Patti More, three days after his surrender. The family read about his killing in a
newspaper report and then went to Khalra police station to ask for the body and
details of the cremation if it had already been performed. The officials there refused
to divulge anything and the family had to keep quiet because of the prevailing
atmosphere of terror.
The family holds Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Booa Singh of Amritsar
and the SHOs of Khalra and Patti police stations responsible. According to Acchar
Singh’s widow Dalbir Kaur, one of her husband’s cousins, Gurmej Singh, son of
Amrik Singh from Sanpura village near Bhikhiwind, was later arrested and killed by
the Amritsar police in a separate incident.
2. Under serial no. 3/008, the list identifies the cremation of Virsa Singh, s/o
Harnam Singh, r/o Sursingh, carried out on 10 May 1987 by inspector Madan
208 Reduced to Ashes
Gopal of Harike police station, under FIR no. 59/87. The post-mortem report is
marked as JSC-33/87 and the cause of death is given as “police encounter”.
The CCDP has collected the following information
through its incident report form no. CCDP/01582. The
main informant is the victim’s brother Mukhtar Singh.
Virsa Singh, s/o Harnam Singh and Gurdial Kaur,
was a resident of Patti Chandu Ki in Sur Singh village
under Bhikhiwind police station in Tarn Taran sub-division
of Amritsar district. Twenty-three-year-old Virsa
Singh had dropped out of school after class the VII to
join a Nihang Sikh order. Virsa Singh stayed with this
group and visited his family very rarely.
In the first week of May 1987, the Amritsar police
arrested Virsa Singh and two of his associates, Satnam
Singh, r/o Chakk Walia and Mangal Singh, r/o Gazal,
from a house in the city. The family members did not receive any information about
Virsa Singh’s situation until a Punjabi newspaper called Jagbani reported his killing
on 28 August 1987, along with Mangal Singh and Satnam Singh, in an alleged police
encounter near village Nabipur under Harike police station. The newspaper report,
based on a police handout, identified all the persons killed in the so-called “encounter”.
Satnam Singh was identified as the son of Vasakha Singh from Chakk Walia
village under Khemkaran police station, and Mangal Singh as the son of Sarma
Singh from Gazal village also under Khemkaran police station. By the time the newspaper
published the reports, the police had already carried out the cremations.
The CBI’s list of identified cremations only shows Virsa Singh’s cremation. In
spite of the complete identification available in the newspaper report, the CBI chose
to place the two other cremations in its partially identified list. Under serial nos. 04/
07 and 05/09, the partially identified list shows the cremations of Mangal Singh and
Satnam Singh, carried out by inspector Madan Gopal of Harike police station on 10
May 1987 under the same FIR no. 59/97. However, contrary to the information given
in the newspaper report, the list identifies Mangal Singh’s village as Bhai Ladhoo.
3. Under serial no. 6/018, the list identifies the cremation of Narinder Singh, alias
Pratap Singh, s/o Puran Singh, r/o Bhorsi, carried out on 18 October 1987 by
assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Aatma Singh of Verowal police station under FIR no.
204/87. The post-mortem report is marked as KS-35/87. The cause of death is
stated to be unavailable.
The CCDP has gathered the following information about this case through its
incident report form no. CCDP/01108. The main informant is the victim’s father Pooran
Twenty-six-year-old Narinder Singh, son of Pooran Singh and Prasin Kaur, was a
resident of Bhorchhi Brahmana village under Jandiala Guru police station in Baba
Bakala sub-division of Amritsar district. His father did not own any land and earned
his livelihood by working as a daily wage laborer. Narinder Singh himself gave up
school to join a Nihang Sikh order. By the virtue of this association, he also used to
Summaries of Cases of Illegal Cremations Included in the CBI Lists 209
be known as Nindi Nihang although the CBI’s list mentions his alias as Pratap Singh.
Narinder was unmarried.
In late 1986, Narinder Singh had been detained and questioned under torture for
his suspected connections with armed militant groups. Harcharan Singh Suri, SHO
of Jandiala Guru Police station, where Narinder Singh was illegally detained for more
than a month, had supervised his interrogation and then implicated him in a criminal
case under the Arms Act. According to the family members, the SHO had done this
to save him from summary execution in custody after several prominent persons of
the village pleaded with him for mercy. Narinder Singh received a bail order that
released him from jail.
In October 1987, several months after this incident, Narinder Singh reportedly
went to Tarn Taran to celebrate ‘Amavas’, the 15th day of the dark half of the lunar
month especially important to Nihang Sikhs, at its gurdwara. A few days later, one of
his colleagues, Sukhdev Singh Nihang from Allowal village, visited Narinder Singh’s
parents at Bhorchi Brahmana village and informed them that the police, led by SHO
Onkar Singh, had arrested their son outside the Tarn Taran Gurdwara.
Narinder Singh’s parents, however, feared the police and did not try to rescue
him. Some days later, they again received information that the Criminal Investigation
Agency (CIA) staff at Amrtisar had subjected Narinder Singh to brutal torture. The
information was provided by some young Sikhs who had also been illegally detained
by the CIA staff in Amritsar and had seen Narinder Singh. Baba Nirmal Das, the
manager of Dera Baba Shri Chand, a Nihang Sikh camp, also informed the family that
their son was in the illegal custody of Amritsar police.
In the third week of October 1987, Punjabi newspapers carried a report about a
supposed armed encounter between the police force and a group of four to five Sikh
militants, culminating in their deaths. Narinder Singh’s name was in the list of killed
militants. The police carried out the cremation without informing the parents. The
CBI’s list mentions the cause of death to be “unavailable”.
4. Under serial no. 8/028, the list identifies the cremation of Baldev Singh, s/o
Harbhajan Singh, r/o village Sheikh Chakk on 29 February 1988 carried out by
ASI Aatma Singh of Verowal police station, under FIR no. 49/88. The post-mortem
report number is mentioned as AK-11/88. The cause of death is stated to be an
The CCDP has acquired the following information
through its incident report form no. CCDP/00750.
Baldev Singh, alias Billa, was 35, married to Gurmeet
Kaur with three young children and lived in village Sheikh
Chakk, post office Lalpur, under Tarn Taran’s Sadar police
station, in the Tarn Taran sub-division of Amritsar
district. Baldev Singh’s parents Bhajan Singh and
Harbans Kaur also lived in the same house. Baldev Singh
worked as a mason. He was a devout Sikh and did not
belong to any political party or organization.
In early 1987, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
then stationed at Fatehabad, illegally detained, Baldev Singh
210 Reduced to Ashes
interrogated and tortured Baldev Singh for two months. He was released
On 25 February 1988, Baldev Singh left his home to visit his in-laws in village
Bhooian near Fatehabad under Khadur Sahib in Amritsar district. He wanted to
invite them to his sister’s marriage. At Fatehabad, Baldev Singh took a rickshaw,
along with another person, to reach Bhooian. On the way, the CRPF, stationed at
village Khuaspur, stopped the rickshaw and took both Baldev Singh and his companion
into custody. A resident of Bhooian village, who was well acquainted with
Baldev Singh, witnessed the arrest on his way to fetch his children from a school in
Fatehabad. The arrest occurred around 4 p.m.
This witness from Bhooian village immediately went to Baldev Singh’s motherin-
law, Swaran Kaur, and told her about the arrests. Swaran Kaur traveled to Sheikh
Chakk to inform Baldev’s parents and her daughter the same evening.
The next morning, Baldev Singh’s father Bhajan Singh, who has since expired,
along with several village elders went to the CRPF camp at Khuaspur and met Tiwari,
the commandant, who denied having Baldev Singh in his custody and did not even
acknowledge arresting him.
On 29 February 1988, the local newspapers reported an “encounter” in which
two “unidentified militants” were allegedly killed. Approached by the family members
and village elders, SHO Tarlochan Singh Walia of Verowal police station admitted
that Baldev Singh was one of those killed in the reported encounter. But the
family was not informed about the cremation and was not able to carry out the last
Baldev Singh’s widow, Gurmeet Kaur, and her three children now live in Bhooian
village near Fatehabad and are supported by her parents.
5 – 13: Under serial nos. 9/032, 10/033, 11/034, 12/035, 14/044, 15/045, 16/046,
17/047 and 18/048, the list identifies nine cremations carried out by SHO Karnail
Singh of Bhikhiwind police station on 11 May 1988 under FIR no. 66/88. They are
of:  Gurnam Singh, s/o Harbhajan Singh, r/o Ghariyala;  Darbara Singh, s/o
Lakshman Singh, r/o Thatha;  Jaswant Singh, s/o Jora Singh, r/o Thatha; 
Pratap Singh, s/o Resham Singh, r/o Kalsian;  Bhupinder Singh, s/o Kuldip
Singh r/o Mehadpur;  Bhag Singh, s/o Kashmir Singh, r/o Palazadi Bud Singh;
 Pritpal Singh, s/o Gurudayal Singh, r/o Gagobooha;  Surjan Singh, s/o Massa
Singh, r/o Padri; and  Gurnam Singh, s/o Jarnail Singh, r/o Thatha. The postmortem
reports are marked as SSA-41/88, SS-42/88, SS-43/88, SS-44/88, VKA-
58/88, VKA-59/88, VKA-60/88, VKA-61/88 and VKA-62/88. The cause of death in
the first four cases is said to be “not available” and in the next five cases given as
The committee has gathered the following information through its incident report
form nos. CCDP/01526, 01527, 01588, 01694, 01557, 01558, and 01528. The main
informants are Darbara Singh’s father Lachhman Singh; Jaswant Singh’s father Jagir
Singh Dodhi; Pratap Singh’s widow Kulwinder Kaur; Bhag Singh’s father Kashmir
Singh; Pritpal Singh’s brother Narinder Pal Singh; Harbhajan Singh, a village guard,
in the case of Surjan Singh; and Gurnam Singh’s father Jarnail Singh.
Twenty-two-year-old Darbara Singh, s/o Lachhman Singh and Gurbakhsh Kaur,
Summaries of Cases of Illegal Cremations Included in the CBI Lists 211
was a resident of Bajwa Patti in village Thatha, post office Ghariala under Bhikhiwind
police station in Patti sub-division of Amritsar district. He had given up school to
join Dam Dami Taksal, the center of orthodox Sikh learning once headed by Jarnail
Singh Bhindranwale, to become a Sikh missionary. Darbara Singh was unmarried. By
the virtue of this association, he became a suspect and the police began to raid his
house and harass his family members.
Twenty-two-year-old Jaswant Singh, s/o Jagir Singh and Preetam Kaur, was a
resident of Sidhu Patti in the same village of Thatha and the eldest of four brothers.
Two of his brothers were soldiers in the Indian army . After studying till class VIII he
began to help his father with his agricultural work. He was also unmarried.
Forty-one-year-old Pratap Singh, s/o Resham Singh and Bakhshish Kaur, was a
farmer from Bunge Wale in Kalsian Kalan under Bhikhiwind police station in Patti
sub-division of Amritsar district. He was married to Kulwinder Kaur and had three
daughters and a son, Gursahib Singh, now 29. The youngest daughter Nirmal Kaur
Pratap Singh was a baptized Sikh and very religious-minded and, like most Sikhs,
had been very upset with the Indian government for its June 1984 Operation Blue
Star. Pratap Singh’s house in his village was located in the outskirts, close to his
fields, and the police began to suspect him of sheltering and feeding militants. As
the police started raiding his house regularly, Pratap Singh, fearing torture and humiliation,
decided to go underground. The police detained and interrogated other
members of his family, including the women. His brother Kulbir Singh was held
at Bhikhiwind police station and tortured brutally. Pratap Singh, however, did not
The person wrongly identified in the list as Bhag Singh was Tara Singh alias
Taru. The youngest of three sons of Kashmir Singh and Jagir Kaur, he was 17-yearold
and a resident of Talwandi Budh Singh, mentioned in the list as Palazadi Bud
Singh, post office Bhangala, in Patti sub-division of Amritsar district. A baptized
Sikh with a strong religious disposition, Tara Singh completed his matriculation in
March 1988 and then joined the ranks of the militant underground. He never returned
home again. Tara Singh was unmarried.
Pritpal Singh, s/o Gurdial Singh and Kuldeep Kaur, was only 18, and a resident of
village Gaggo Booha, and post office Gaggo Booha under Jhabbal police station in
Tarn Taran sub-division of Amritsar district. A religious-minded boy from a baptized
Sikh family, Pritpal dropped out of school in class V and began to take interest in the
Sikh militant movement. But the police had not arrested or interrogated him yet.
Twenty-four-year-old Surjan Singh, s/o Massa Singh and Tej Kaur, was from
village Padhri Nikki, post office Padhri Kalan, in Tarn Taran sub-division of Amrisar
district. He was married and had four children and, along with his four brothers, was
engaged in farming. Surjan Singh was suspected of having ties with militants and
had been arrested in 1987 under the Arms Act. He was released on a bail order six
months later and left home to join the militant underground.
Seventeen-year-old Gurnam Singh, s/o Jarnail Singh and Jeeto, from Sidhu Patti
in Thatha village in Patti sub-division of Amritsar district was the youngest of three
brothers. After finishing his school, Gurnam trained as a compounder under a private
doctor and set up his own medical practice in the village. His was an unauthorized
medical practice, common in Punjab’s countryside as also in other rural parts of
212 Reduced to Ashes
India, tolerated by the authorities largely because qualified doctors flock to cities.
But the police also suspected him of having ties with militants.
All nine persons were killed in incidents of “encounters”, involving both the Punjab
police and the CRPF, that took place on 10 May 1988. According to a report published
in the Punjabi daily Ajit on 12 May 1988, the series of encounters began after Mohinder
Kumar Khairat, commandent of 19 Battalion of the CRPF, managed to recover some
diaries belonging to Gurnam Singh Ghariala following a raid on a farmhouse in village
Ghariala. Gurnam Singh Ghariala himself escaped the raid but the security forces obtained
the addresses of several wanted terrorists from the diaries that he had left
behind. A joint force of the CRPF and the Punjab police then laid a siege at village
Makhi Kalan and killed Gurnam Singh Ghariala and Bega Singh. Their companions
escaped the encounter but were chased and killed at Kalsian and Sadhra villages.
Some others were killed in an exchange of fire at Ajaib Singh’s tube-well in village
Sadhra. The information was passed on to the press by Amrisar’s SSP Sanjiv Gupta.
We have not been able to identify who witnessed these “encounters” and the
family members we spoke to did not suggest that they had been fake. All of them
reached Bhikhiwind police station the same day, after receiving information about
the incident from private sources, and were able to identify the bodies. Surprisingly,
the police did not object to returning the bodies for cremation to the relatives, if
members of the village councils accompanied them and signed certain papers. According
to the relatives of Darbara Singh, Jaswant Singh and Gurnam Singh, all from
Thatha village, the police returned the bodies and the cremations were carried out at
the village cremation ground itself.
Relatives of Pratap Singh came to know about the “encounter” from a television
report broadcast on the May 10 evening and they reached the police station the next
morning. The police had already arranged for the cremations at Patti and allowed the
family members and other village elders to attend.
Tara Singh’s father Kashmir Singh identified his son’s body at the Patti hospital.
The body was cremated at the Patti cremation ground.
Pritpal Singh’s mother and his aunt also reached the police station by May 11.
No male member of the family or members of the village council had accompanied
them. By the time they turned up, the cremation, organized by the police, was underway.
But they were allowed to attend.
No member of Surjan Singh’s family was able to reach the police station, and the
Bhikhiwind police carried out the cremation by declaring his body as unclaimed.
It is a mystery that, while the relatives of Darbara Singh, Jaswant Singh and
Gurnam Singh claim to have taken the bodies to their villages for the cremations, the
CBI’s list shows all the cremations to have been carried out by SHO Karnail Singh of
Bhikhiwind police station at Patti cremation ground.
14– 16: Under serial nos. 19/49, 20/50 and 21/51, the list identifies three cremations
carried out by SHO Mohinder Singh of Valtoha police station on 29 June
1988 under FIR no. 86/88. They are of  Surjeet Singh, s/o Jagga Singh Jat, r/o
Ghariyala;  Chanan Singh, s/o Puran Singh Jat, r/o village Assal Utar; and 
Swaran Singh, s/o Gurmej Singh, r/o Assar Uttar. The post-mortem reports are
marked as SLG 34/88, SLG 35/88 and SLG 36/88. The cause of death in all three
cases is stated to be “police encounter”.
Summaries of Cases of Illegal Cremations Included in the CBI Lists 213
The committee has received the following information about Swaran Singh through
its incident report form no. CCDP/01250. Jaswant Singh, the victim’s brother is the
Swaran Singh, alias Samma, 24, resident of Asal Utar, Qila Sodhian Wala under
Valtoha police station in Patti sub-division of Amritsar district, had been active in the
agitation launched by the Akali Dal in July 1982. He was single and lived with his
widowed mother. In the course of the Akali agitation prior to the army action in June
1984, Swaran Singh had courted arrest and had spent some time in jail. He did not
have a criminal record, nor was he wanted in connection with any militant offence.
But he sympathized with the militant movement for Khalistan and had friends who
were involved in it.
On 28 June 1988, Swaran Singh, along with his friend Channan Singh, s/o Pooran
Singh of Asal Utar, went with Surjit Singh, s/o Jagga Singh and resident of Ghariala,
to a house in his village. Surjit Singh was a member of a militant organization and was
wanted by the police. On reaching the house, the police abducted all three of them,
apparently tipped off about their visit. Later, all three were shot in an orchestrated
On 29 June 1988 morning, constables from Ghariala police post picked up Swaran
Singh’s brother, Jaswant Singh, for the identification of the bodies. After getting
their post-mortems done at Patti Civil hospital, the police handed over the bodies to
the families, who carried out the cremations. The CBI’s list, however, mentions subinspector
and SHO Mohinder Singh as the officer who requisitioned the cremations,
contradicting the family’s testimony.
17. Under serial no. 22/52, the list identifies the cremation of Amrik Singh, s/o
Gurmej Singh Mahajan, r/o Ratoke, carried out by SHO Mohinder Singh of Valtoha
police station on 10 August 1988 under FIR no. 102/88. There is no post-mortem
report number. The cause of death is given as “police encounter”.
The CCDP has gathered the following information about this case through its
incident report form no. CCDP/01573. The main informant in this case is the victim’s
son Gurnam Singh.
Amrik Singh, s/o Gurmej Singh, a mason belonging to a poor Mazhabi family,
was a resident of Mazhabian Da Vehra in Rattoke village in Patti sub-division of
Amritsar district. He was married to Joginder Kaur with two sons, Gurnam Singh and
Nishan Singh; they are now 20 and 18. Amrik focused on his work, commuting
between his home and worksite on his bicycle. He had no political or militant connections
and had never been arrested or interrogated prior to his killing.
On 9 August 1988 morning, Amrik, as usual, left for his worksite at village Dasuwal
where he was building a drainage system. Around 9 a.m. that day, when Amrik and
his colleagues had just started attending to their work, the Valtoha police, led by
sub-inspector (SI) Mohinder Singh, got involved in an exchange of fire with a group
of militants. The police chased the militants, firing at them. One of the bullets fired by
the police hit Amrik Singh in his head and he died instantly. His family learnt about
his killing around 11 a.m. when Valtoha police took Amrik’s father Gurmej Singh
down to the site to identify the body. The police officers expressed regret and admitted
that they had killed an innocent person by mistake.
214 Reduced to Ashes
The next morning, after the post-mortem, the police handed the body over to the
family members for the cremation, which was carried out at their village. However, the
following day, the newspapers published a report, on the basis of a police handout,
stating that a militant had been killed in an encounter at Dasuwal village. Amrik’s
family members had neither the resources nor the necessary contacts to challenge
the lie and, fearing further reprisals, decided to remain silent.
However, Amrik’s father Gurmej Singh was unable to cope with the death of his
innocent son and the police injustice in declaring him a militant. Inconsolable, he
died two months later from a heart attack.
Once again we notice that although his family members actually carried out his
cremation in the victim’s village, the CBI’s list claims that SHO Mohinder Singh of
Valtoha police performed it at Patti cremation ground.
18. Under serial no. 23/53, the list identifies the cremation of Shinda, s/o Sarwan
Singh Jat, r/o Sur Singh under Bhikhiwind police station on 22 September 1988,
carried out by SHO Mohinder Singh of Valtoha police station, under FIR no. 123/
88. The post-mortem report is marked as SSA 38/88 and the cause of death is given
as “police encounter”.
The committee has gathered the following information about this case through
its incident report form no. CCDP/01583. The main informant is Harbans Kaur, the
The actual name of the cremated person identified by the CBI as Shinda was
Sawinder Singh. The list also wrongly identifies his father as Sarwan Singh. The
correct name is Swaran Singh. They were residents of Patti Mahna Ki, village Sur
Singh Wala, under Bhikhiwind police station, in Tarn Taran sub-division of Amritsar
district. Unmarried at 25, Sawinder had been outraged by the Indian army ’s attack on
the Golden Temple of Amritsar in June 1984 and became sympathetic to the militant
movement. He went underground in 1986 or 1987 after the police began raiding his
house with the intention of arresting him. After Sawinder left home, the police began
to harass his family members, picking them up and holding them in illegal detention
for information. His father Swaran Singh was brutally tortured and became physically
On 21 September 1988, Valtoha police, led by SHO Mohinder Singh, raided a
house in Poonia village and arrested Sawinder Singh and his associate Jagir Singh.
The police took both of them out to the fields in the outskirts of the village and shot
them dead. Later that evening, the police informed Sawinder’s family members about
the “encounter”, and after the identification and the post-mortem of the body, handed
it over to them for cremation, which was carried out in the village.
The family members made detailed inquiries at village Poonia about the alleged
“encounter” and discovered the true sequence of events. The newspaper reports
about the “encounter”, based on information given out by the police, identified both
Sawinder Singh and Jagir Singh of Rasoolpur village by their names. However, the
CBI’s list of identified cremations only shows Sawinder’s cremation, and it states
that the cremation was carried out by the Valtoha police at Patti whereas the actual
cremation was held in Sur Singh Wala village. The list does not show the second
cremation of Jagir Singh. The two other lists of partially identified and unidentified
Summaries of Cases of Illegal Cremations Included in the CBI Lists 215
cremations, prepared by the CBI, also do not show any other cremation carried out
by the police the same day.
Sawinder’s father Swaran Singh, who had earlier suffered brutal torture, remained
physically disabled and bed-ridden, and died a few years later.
19 – 20: Under serial nos. 24/54 and 25/55, the list identifies two cremations on 5
November 1988 carried out by SHO Dara Singh of Harike police station, under FIR
no. 193/88. They are of:  Karam Singh, s/o Teja Singh, r/o Durgapur; and 
Balwinder Singh, s/o Darbara Singh, r/o Warian. The post-mortem reports are
marked as VKA 131/88 and VKA 132/88. The cause of death is given as “police
The committee has collected the following information through its incident report
form nos. CCDP/01622 and 01623. The main informants are Karam Singh’s widow
Balwinder Kaur and Balwinder Singh’s brother-in-law Surjit Singh.
Twenty-eight-year-old Karam Singh, s/o Teja Singh and Jagir Kaur, was a farmer
from village Dargapur under Sarhalli Kalan police station in Tarn Taran sub-division
of Amritsar district. The eldest of six brothers in the family, Karam Singh was married
to Balwinder Kaur with a daughter, now 20, and two sons, 19 and 17. Karam Singh
had no political background. However, in the wake of Operation Blue Star, Karam
Singh began to express views in favor of an independent Sikh state. The police
became suspicious and started raiding his house. Karam Singh, fearing torture, deserted
his home. The police instead picked up his family members, coercing them to
produce him for an interrogation. Even though they had no information about Karam
Singh, the police pressure did not relent.
Sarhalli police raided Karam Singh’s house in the last week of October 1988 and
took his brother Sukhdev Singh into their custody. They forced him to come along
with them to village Kawan under Goindwal police station where Karam Singh’s inlaws
lived. Karam Singh, who had taken shelter with his in-laws, was arrested along
with two of his brothers-in-law, Malkeet Singh and Avtar Singh. The police released
his brother and brought Karam Singh and his brothers-in-law to Sarhalli police station.
Four days later, Avtar Singh and Malkeet Singh were also released after their
family members paid SHO Gurdev Singh a bribe of Rs. 10,000. The police did not
release Karam Singh, whom they had tortured brutally in the presence of his brothers-
in-law. His family could not obtain direct information about what happened to
him after the police released Malkeet Singh and Avtar Singh from illegal custody.
The family members failed to take note of a newspaper report that described
Karam Singh’s killing in a supposed encounter, along with another “militant”, and
continued to visit SHO Gurdev Singh of Sarhalli police station in the hope of getting
him released. However, towards the end of November 1988, some distant relatives
and village elders were able to convince Karam Singh’s parents that their son was no
more and to carry out his last rites although they had neither attended the cremation
nor collected his ashes.
The correct name of the cremated person identified in the CBI’s list, Under serial
no. 25/55, as Balwinder Singh is Baldev Singh. Fifteen-year-old Baldev was the
youngest of three sons born to Darbara Singh and Surjit Kaur, a poor family of
landless peasants living in village Variah, post office Naushehra Pannuan under
216 Reduced to Ashes
Sarhalli Kalan police station in Tarn Taran sub-division of Amritsar district. Due to
poor financial condition Baldev had to drop out of school at the primary level and
help his father cultivate other people’s land as a hired laborer and sometimes as a
sharecropper. Baldev had no connections with the militant movement and had never
been arrested or interrogated by the police. Baldev Singh and Karam Singh were not
However, Baldev Singh was the second “militant” killed along with Karam Singh
in the “encounter” that had been staged, according to the newspaper reports, during
the night of 4 November 1988 near village Marar under Harike police station. In the
third week of October 1988, SHO Gurdev Singh of Sarhalli police station picked up
Baldev Singh from his house along with his brother Balwinder Singh and locked
them up in separate cells. Balwinder was not tortured so severely, but he remained
petrified by his brother’s screams, which he heard for hours together every night
while he was interrogated. This went on for several days. But he was not able to see
or talk to Baldev.
Darbara Singh, the father of the two boys, had been meeting the SHO of Sarhalli
police station to plead with him for their release. Towards the end of October, the head
of the village council met Darbara Singh to convey a message from the SHO that his
sons would be released if he paid Rs. 60,000. Darbara Singh was a poor landless
peasant and it was impossible for him to raise such a huge amount of money.
A few days later, Balwinder was released but Baldev remained in police custody.
According to Balwinder, Harike Police had taken his brother away the night before
his release. The SHO was very evasive whenever Darbara Singh met him over the
next days to inquire about his second son.
Soon, the family found out that the police had killed Baldev in an “encounter”
near village Marar under Harike police station. Darbara Singh went to Marar village
to make enquiries and found that earlier in November, the police had come to the
village with two young Sikhs and had killed them after staging a fake encounter. At
the site of the “encounter”, Darbara Singh found a woolen shawl that his son was
wearing when the police had taken him away. He came back to his village with
Baldev’s shawl that the police had left behind after killing him and went on to hold a
religious ceremony to mark his son’s death, although he had neither attended the
cremation nor collected his ashes.
Darbara Singh was not in a position to initiate any action against the killers of his
son. But together with his family, he decided to leave the village.
Baldev’s sister and her husband Surjit Singh, who live in the neighboring village
of Kheda, near Naushehra Pannuan, provided this information.