Mohali: Three decades after the kidnapping of an employee of the Butari Sub Division of Punjab State Electricity Board, a Special CBI court in Mohali awarded ten years jail term to the former SHO of the Punjab Police, and also slapped a fine of Rs 70,000 on him.
Santokh Singh who was kidnapped by the Punjab Police official is still missing. However, murder charges were not added in the FIR.
CBI Judge Harinder Sidhu said the prosecution was able to bring home the guilt of the accused and convicted Major Singh, the then SHO of police Station Sadar, Tarn Taran for kidnapping Santokh Singh and holding him hostage in 1991 during the height of militancy and human rights violations by the Punjab Police.
The court convicted Inspector Major Singh under sections 364 (kidnapping or abduction in order to murder) with Rs 50,000 fine and section 344 (wrongful confinement for 10 days or more) and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment and Rs 20,000 fine.
The victim Santokh Singh of Village Jaspal, Mehta district Amritsar was an employee of the Butari Sub Division of Punjab State Electricity Board.
On the evening of July 31, 1991 he returned home from his office at 8.30 p.m., the accused Inspector Major Singh along with a police party from PS Sadar, Tarn Taran raided his house.
The victim was taken in front of his mother Swaran Kaur, his wife Rajwinder Kaur who was carrying their new born baby son at that time.
Both women raised the alarm and a number of neighbours and witnesses from the village saw Inspector Major Singh tying the hands of Santokh Singh who was taken to police station Sadar.
He was kept in illegal custody where other inmates witnessed his severe torture, they described his condition as critical, he was unable to eat or drink due to his tortured condition.
Swaran Kaur pleaded for the release of her son and had even approached then SP Operations Khubi Ram who did not deny that he was in their custody and had promised that her son would be released.
After his prolonged detention and torture, he was not seen of or heard from again.
In 1996, his mother filed Habeas corpus before the Punjab and Haryana High Court for the Punjab police to produce her son or investigate his abduction and disappearance.
A crucial piece of evidence was from the Punjab State Electricity Board employee records which showed that he had not attended work or collected his salary since the evening of his abduction.
On the January 21, 1998, the CBI was directed by the High Court to conduct an investigation.
The CBI inquiry concluded that Santokh Singh had been abducted and illegally detained by Inspector Major Singh.
A case was registered by the CBI on the August 21, 1998.
The CBI filed the chargesheet in 1999.
The matter was stayed by the High Court in 2002.
The Supreme Court had then in 2003, ordered the trial to proceed. The accused again further delayed the trial and in 2016 the Supreme Court again ordered the trial to proceed.
Again, in 2016, he sought a stay on proceedings which was dismissed by the High Court in 2017.
When the trial resumed in November 2019 for final arguments, the accused again stalled the proceedings by securing a further stay in the High Court, which was vacated in the December 2021.
The trial resumed in January 2022.
On Monday — January 31, after 31 years of the case, the accused was finally convicted by the court.