31 yrs on, IAS officer sees her father’s killers get death

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Lucknow: Kinjal Singh was five months old when her father K P Singh, then a DSP-rank police officer, was shot dead by his own men while leading a raid in a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda district.

On Friday, Kinjal, now an IAS officer and district magistrate of Bahraich, broke down in tears as a special CBI court in Lucknow sentenced to death three policemen accused of killing her father, and sent five others to jail for life.

After killing Singh, the policemen had dragged 12 residents of Madhopur village in Katra Bazar out of their homes and shot them, claiming subsequently that all the deaths had occurred during an encounter with criminals.

Kinjal left the court premises without responding to questions from reporters, but later said she was satisfied with the judgment.

Her younger sister Pranjal Singh, who is an assistant commissioner of Customs in Ambala, said over the phone: “The day this order is executed will be the day of real justice.” Pranjal was born seven months after Singh died.

According to the prosecution, a police team went to the village on the night of March 12, 1982, looking for two criminals, Ram Bhulawan and Arjun Pasi. A group of policemen led by DSP Singh, who was also the circle officer, knocked on the door of one Ram Baran Shukla, where the two criminals were said to be hiding. The police were tipped off by a resident of the village called Nanku, who had old enmity with Ram Baran Shukla.

When no one responded to his knocks, Singh stepped back from the door. As he turned around, sub-inspector R B Saroj shot him in the chest. Singh was declared dead in hospital.

Special Judge Rajendra Singh gave Saroj the death sentence, along with head constable Ram Nayak Pandey and constable Ram Karan Singh.

Sub-inspectors Mangla Singh, Naseem Ahmed, Parvez Hussain and Rajendra Prasad Singh, and subedar Rama Kant Dixit were sentenced to life terms.

Except Ram Nayak Pandey, who is now posted in Jaunpur district, all the policemen have retired. The court held that the accused may now be old, infirm or sick, but they had killed innocent people, and that justice must be done.

Senior Public Prosecutor Sanjay Kumar said that the judge had ruled that Saroj, Ram Nayak and Ram Karan had actually carried out the killings that night, and that their crime fell in the ‘rarest of rare’ category. The court had found the other five men guilty of criminal conspiracy, manufacturing evidence and faking documents, Kumar said.

The court also expressed unhappiness with the CBI for not investigating fully the conspiracy behind the murder of DSP Singh, and for not chargesheeting those who had backed his killers. The order said that entries in the general diary of the police station made it clear that a conspiracy was afoot, and that a letter in the files showed that Singh, as CO, had written strong notes against the accused.

“The evidence… always indicated conspiracy at a high level and CBI kept their eyes closed,” the judgment said. “…After shooting of their officer, at least a gang of police personnel helped the village pradhan, and with his help killed 12 persons… in a barbaric manner.”

Singh’s wife Vibha Singh went to the Supreme Court after the Gonda police, who did the initial investigation, filed a closure report. The Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe in 1984. Vibha Singh is no longer alive.

Defence counsel Satish Kumar said they would file an appeal against Friday’s order.

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