Ensaaf Honors Life and Legacy of Jaswant Singh Khalra
(Seattle, WA) As the United Nations marks the International Day of the Disappeared this week, Ensaaf remembers the life and legacy of Jaswant Singh Khalra by participating in a 2-day forum for human rights at the Sikh Temple of Sacramento on September 4th and 5th. Ensaaf calls upon the Government of India to end impunity for disappearances and unlawful killings in Punjab and to prosecute the senior perpetrators.
Fifteen years ago, Indian security forces murdered Jaswant Singh Khalra for exposing systematic disappearances and secret killings in Punjab. According to government records exposed by Khalra, security forces in Punjab marked thousands of bodies as "unidentified/unclaimed" and then secretly cremated them. The security forces would proclaim they killed "militants" in shoot outs, while thousands of families were left wondering about the fate of their loved ones who had been abducted by those same security forces.
Tragically, Khalra's life was cut short before he was able to finish his investigations. On the morning of September 6, 1995, witnesses saw uniformed and armed Punjab Police personnel abduct Khalra. Senior Punjab Police officers had previously warned Khalra to discontinue his efforts, or he too would become another unidentified body. Police tortured Khalra for weeks before killing him. Five police officers were eventually sentenced to life in prison for his abduction and murder, but the chief architects of systematic killings, including former Punjab Police Chief KPS Gill, remain free.
Sikhs across America are gathering for a two-day forum in Sacramento on September 4th and 5th to commemorate Jaswant Singh Khalra's mission and work. "The Government of India thought it could cover up its crimes and silence Khalra by killing him. It failed to realize that murdering him would make the reality of mass cremations impossible to deny and galvanize the movement for justice. This forum is part of that movement, to build public opinion in support of survivors' rights to truth, justice, and reparations," asserts Sukhman Dhami, Co-Director of Ensaaf and presenter at the Sacramento forum.
Khalra highlighted the importance of the international community in his last international speech: "The highest court of all is the people's court. And we want to go the people's court on a worldwide level."
Attend the forum at the Sikh Temple of Sacramento on September 4th and 5th, sponsored by Ensaaf, Jakara, Sikh Research Institute, Sikh Information Centre and members of the Sacramento Sikh community, and help continue Khalra's mission. The schedule on Saturday, September 4th will conclude with the unveiling of "Khalra's List," a visual memorial to the victims documented by Khalra, which eventually became the Punjab Mass Cremations Case.
For more information on Jaswant Singh Khalra and the Punjab Mass Cremations Case, please click here.
Click here for more information on the International Day of the Disappeared.