6 June 2014A CBI court on Friday found 18 Uttarakhand policemen guilty of killing a 22-year-old management student in a staged gunfight in 2009 after labeling him as a criminal. The court will read out the quantum of punishment at a hearing on Saturday.
Seven of the convicts — then inspector Santosh Jaiswal, sub-inspectors Gopal Dutt Bhatt, Rajesh Bisht, Neeraj Kumar, Nitin Chauhan and Chandra Mohan — were found guilty of murder. Ten policemen were convicted for conspiring to murder while one constable was convicted for entering false information into records, making it the first fake encounter case in which so many policemen have been convicted.
Ranbir Singh, an MBA student from Ghaziabad, had been shot dead on July 3, 2009 after being arrested from Mohini Road in Dehradun. The police had said at the time that Ranbir and two of his companions attempted to snatch the service revolver of inspector Bhatt. Though his friends escaped, Ranbir was shot dead in the Ladpur forest area on the outskirts of the city.
The CBI report punctured the police claim after pointing to autopsy report that said Ranbir’s body bore injury marks suggesting he might have died during interrogation. Also, forensic experts found no shot had been fired from the pistol the police claimed was found near Ranbir’s body riddled with 22 bullets. The police had alleged Ranbir fired at the cops with the same revolver.
The convicts are currently in Tihar jail. While some of them had been arrested soon after the killing that shocked the state, 11 others had surrendered before the Delhi court in 2012. The case was initially handled by the Crime Branch-CID of the state government. But following protests by the victim’s family, the investigation was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The trial had been transferred from Dehradun to Delhi on the orders of the Supreme Court on the plea of Ranbir’s father Ravindra Singh. Other policemen convicted in the case are Satbir Singh, Sunil Saini, Chander Pal, Saurabh Nautiyal, Nagender Rathi, Vikas Chander Baluni, Sanjay Rawat and Manoj Kumar and drivers Mohan Singh Rana and Inderbhan Singh.
Jaspal Singh Gosain, a wireless operator at city control room, was convicted but released on the period already served behind bars. He was directed to furnish a bail bond and surety of Rs. 50,000 each.
Hang the guilty, says family
Ravindra, an ex-serviceman who runs a Mother Dairy outlet in Ghaziabad, said the verdict proved that justice cannot be denied. “We have been struggling to prove Ranbir was killed in cold blood in a fake encounter and that the policemen are murderers. The court has vindicated our stand. The guilty will pay for their sins only if they are hanged,” Ravindra said.
Talking to HT on phone from Ghaziabad, Ranbir’s brother-in-law Sudhir Kumar said the family had been fighting the legal battle “for its honour”. “We know that Rabir cannot be brought back to life, but we have been fighting the battle for justice so that the police do not carry out such acts in future,” he said.