25 Years Later, Trial Proceeds in Disappearance of Kuljit Singh Dhatt
On July 23, 1989, Punjab policemen abducted Kuljit Singh Dhatt and other people in the presence of eyewitnesses. His family has been relentlessly fighting for justice. On the 25th anniversary of his disappearance, his family is sponsoring Ensaaf’s second annual 5K fundraising walk, Appear for the Disappeared 2014. We are honored to have their support in our quest to document every case of disappearance and unlawful killing perpetrated in Punjab by Indian security forces during the Decade of Disappearances (1984-1995).
Kuljit Singh Dhatt
Kuljit Singh Dhatt lived in Ambala Jattan, Hoshiarpur. He was married to Gurmeet Kaur and had three kids. His brothers' mother-in-law was Prakash Kaur, the younger sister of Indian independence hero Bhagat Singh.
His family learned that the police had registered a First Information Report (FIR) stating that they had gone to recover weapons on July 26, 1989, and Dhatt had broken his handcuffs and escaped from custody into the river Beas. However, the police themselves had earlier admitted to the family that they had “done away” with Dhatt. Eyewitness testimony confirmed that he had been tortured, as well.
In September 1989, the Dhatt family filed a habeas corpus petition with the Supreme Court. In 1993, a Court-appointed commission submitted its report, implicating five police officers in the unlawful killing of Kuljit Singh Dhatt: then-Deputy Superintendent of Police Ajit S. Sandhu (who committed suicide in 1997), Jaspal Singh (in life imprisonment for killing human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra), Sardul Singh (who died in 2008), S.P.S. Basra (who is currently a senior police officer in Punjab), and Sita Ram (in life imprisonment in a separate case).
The Supreme Court ordered the registration of a case in 1996, and these five police officers were arrested but later released on bail.
The trial did not begin until 2012. It is expected to conclude by March 2014.
Please register, set a fundraising goal, and create your own fundraising page to help raise funds to support our project to document every disappearance and unlawful killing in Punjab. We have reached 6000 villages, but need to reach 6000 more. The walk will take place on Saturday, March 8, 2014 at Lake Elizabeth, Central Park, Fremont, CA. You can walk in person in Fremont, in your city, or virtually.
Help us reach our goal of commemorating 500 victims of disappearances or unlawful killings.