47 cops convicted for fake encounter of 11 Sikh pilgrims after 25 years

A CBI court on Friday held as many as 47 cops guilty of killing 11 Sikh pilgrims in a fake encounter in Pilibhit about 25 years ago.

The court took 20 convicts into custody and sent them to jail whereas it issued non-bailable warrants against the rest 27 who did not appear before it at the time of the verdict. The court will pronounce the quantum of sentence on April 4.

CBI judge Lalloo Singh said there was ample proof against the cops for kidnapping and conspiring to kill the pilgrims in the name of terrorists.

According to CBI prosecu tor SC Jaiswal, the incident took place on July 12, 1991. A group of Sikh pilgrims from Gurdaspur in Punjab was returning by bus after visiting Nanakmatha, Patna Sahib, Huzur Sahib and other holy places. The police intercepted the bus near a bridge at Kachhalaghat in Pilibhit at around 11am. Eleven Sikhs were forced to step down from the bus.

Later, they were allegedly killed in an encounter shown in different police stations. It was said that they were terrorists and had fired on cops. Police also recorded that illegal arms had been recovered from the deceased. FIRs were registered at Vilsanda, Puranpur and Nauria police stations.

Later, RS Sodhi, a lawyer, filed a PIL before the SC which handed over the probe to the CBI. After investigation, the CBI found that the Sikhs were innocent and were killed in fake encounters in which station officers, sub-inspectors and constables of different police stations were involved. In January 2003 the court framed charges against the accused, 10 of whom died during trial.