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The Last Killing

Baljit Singh

The lawyer said that he should be shackled. That way, the police can’t claim that he escaped from custody. The judge granted the police one day custody. He was to be presented in court on November 29, 1992. But that same night police killed Baljit Singh in a fake encounter. After that, they claimed that he had escaped from custody. A brother is your right arm. I remember him at every moment.

— Jagroop Singh

Baljit Singh, also known as Baldev Singh, had passed 10th grade and worked as a reader of religious scriptures. He lived in Moga district. Police had detained Baljit Singh on one prior occasion, before the detention leading to his death.

In early 1992, the police issued a warrant for Baljit Singh because of allegations that militants visited him. After being on the run for 20 days, Baljit Sing’s family and other individuals presented him at the City police station in Moga on March 19, 1992. That same evening, the police took Baljit Singh to CIA Staff Moga, where they detained him for 18 days. A co-detainee witnessed Baljeet Singh in custody and reported that police tortured Baljit Singh. Jagroop Singh describes, “The police tore [Baljit Singh’s] groin and applied rollers on him. My brother was electrocuted. He was hung upside down and dunked in water. This was not regular water; police mixed chilies in this water and dunked the face. When my brother would start to writhe and wriggle, they [police] would remove him [from the water].”

On April 8, 1992, the police moved Baljit Singh to Mehna police station in Moga. Another person witnessed Baljit Singh in custody and reported that Baljeet Singh was tortured badly. A police intermediary, who had been present when his family first presented Baljit Singh to the police, informed Jagroop Singh that police wanted Rs. 20,000 or would stage a faked encounter of Baljit Singh. Baljit Singh’s family gave the money to the police officers and police officers presented Baljit Singh at Moga court the following day, filing false cases against him. The judge sent Baljit Singh to Moga jail where he spent three months. Jagroop Singh visited him in jail. In July, Baljit Singh was shifted to Faridkot jail for five months. Again, Jagroop Singh visited him.

On November 28, 1992, the Moga Sadar police presented Baljit Singh in front of a judge. Baljit Singh’s lawyer was present. Baljit Singh told the judge, “Do not grant the remand. Otherwise, police will take me from here and kill me.” His lawyer requested, “Give the command to apply shackles so that even if police officers kill [Baljit Singh], they cannot say that he ran away.” That night, Gurmej Singh Dhola of P.S. Mehna, Naginder Singh Rana and other officers from CIA Staff executed Baljit Singh. They claimed he escaped despite his shackles. The lawyer informed Jagroop Singh, “[T]he police’s response was that [Baljit Singh] broke the shackles and ran away.”