Chandigarh, Feb. 19: The director-general of Punjab police has revealed that militants who helped the cops with information on other terrorists during the Khalistani movement were falsely declared dead and covertly rehabilitated as part of a government policy to end the bloodbath in the state.
DGP S.S. Virk’s confession came a few days after Sukhvinder Singh Sukhi, a former Khalistani militant, told a local daily that he owes his life to the efforts of Virk. Sukhi also claimed that he was close to the DGP and has been meeting him every now and then.
Today, Virk said he met Sukhi before and after his rehabilitation and that he saw nothing wrong in it. “Yes, the Punjab police resorted to unconventional methods to control terrorism and save the nation from breaking apart,” Virk said. Many dreaded terrorists, declared “dead”, had been rehabilitated by the police and provided a false identity. Their names were tagged on unidentified bodies to pronounce them dead and cases against them were closed, he added.
“Sukhi helped the police by providing quality information on how terrorists operated, their network and sympathisers. We have provided false identities to a number of terrorists who had helped end the bloodbath in the state from 1978 to 1995. They are now everywhere, in villages, too, living peacefully.”
Sukhi, a Khalistani area commander, was an accused in an assassination bid on BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi during his Ekta Yatra in 1992. Virk was in the CRPF then.
Police records say Sukhi, wanted in a murder case, was arrested with a truckload of arms near Ludhiana but escaped from custody in Phillaur. After remaining “untraced” for some months, he was pronounced “dead” in 1992 and all cases against him were closed.
In reality, Sukhi, under another name, runs a beauty parlour in Jalandhar and even enjoys police protection. Some say he even wielded enough power to get cops transferred.
“Eradicating terrorism was not easy. We were faced with an uphill task. So, the government evolved a method and we implemented it by allowing terrorists to come back into the mainstream. While there were about 3,000 open surrenders, there were a few hundred covert ones,” Virk said.
“Some terrorists had to be provided protection for providing quality information that could be used to control terrorism. We have always been accused of killing people. This is the first time we are being blamed for saving people,” the DGP said.
“Killing terrorists would not have helped. Many had taken up arms for insignificant reasons and we wanted to help them. The bullet-for-bullet policy was only for those who attacked us, not helped us,” Virk said.
The DGP revealed that young boys who fled to Pakistan after Operation Bluestar and received arms training were also rehabilitated. “Those who carried on killing were eliminated.”
However, Virk said he did not have details on how many terrorists owe their existence today to the 2,097 unclaimed bodies that were illegally cremated by Punjab police. He said there could be “many”.
“Many boys became terrorists because they had been ill-treated. We dealt with them sympathetically,” he said. Virk said he has no regrets about the police action.