From Satinder Bains DH News Service Chandigarh:
He is a dreaded terrorist involved in a conspiracy to kill former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. But Sukhwinder Singh alias Sukhi has been roaming free and leading a normal life under the protection of the Punjab police.
The government of Punjab is now caught in a piquant situation over revelations that the Punjab Director General of Police had sheltered the “dead” terrorist who lived under fake identity for fifteen years.
Sukhi, a confidant of Daljit Singh Bittu, former terrorist and Khalistan Commando Force chief, was given a fake identity of Harjit Singh Kahlon and issued a passport and arms licence under the fake name. All cases against him were closed and police records declared him “dead”.
DGP S S Virk has justified his action of protecting Sukhi, as he had helped the police in their fight against terrorism. “The police indulged in some unconventional method to fight the unconventional war by terrorists,” the police chief said. He said there were about 300 such terrorists who have been given fake identities to live a normal life.
Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal had alleged that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was keeping an illegal army of hardcore criminals to terrorise the opposition leaders and revive militancy in the run-up to the Assembly elections and eventually blame the Akali Dal.
Plot to kill Rajiv
The disturbing factor, however, is the involvement of Sukhi in a plot to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi and an attack on Ekta Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir in 1991, led by former BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi. Several other cases of murder, kidnapping and extortion were also registered against him, sources maintained.
Sukhi’s name has figured in the Jain Commission report on the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. Section 5.2 in pages 7 and 8 of the interim report submitted by the Jain Commission reads, “The reports of the Intelligence Bureau of the period give an insight into the constant and determined efforts being made by the Sikh extremists within the country to harm Shri Rajiv Gandhi.”
Reports in the early 1988, inter alia, indicated: “It was learnt that Daljit Singh (Bittu) of the Khalistan Commando Force visited Delhi in the first week of January 1988 with some other top leaders… to plan some spectacular action.”
Bittu, who was recently acquitted in criminal cases, has floated a political outfit, Shiromani Khalsa Dal, and Sukhi was an active member of it. Sukhi had also attended the marriage of Bittu recently in Ludhiana. Bittu, however, has distanced himself from Sukhi.
It was Sukhi himself who spilled the beans on being spotted by a few journalists in Jalandhar. He admitted that he was living under fake identity since 1992 with the blessings of the DGP.
Mr Virk, originally from the Maharashtra cadre, was DIG CRPF at Amritsar during the peak of militancy in Punjab. He was retained by the Punjab police and subsequently elevated to the rank of DGP. Sources said Sukhi lived a comfortable life and was allotted a government house in the name of a police constable.