Two police officers who were part of the prosecution that turned hostile in the Burail jailbreak case continue to avail the services of Chandigarh Police.
DSP (Retd) KIP Singh who had not appeared during the case hearing on Tuesday, has had a Home Guard of the Chandigarh Police deputed outside his residence in Sector 21 for over a decade. Singh had sought security on the grounds of possible threats in connection with the case.
A key investigating officer, then Inspector KIP Singh of the Crime Branch, had recorded the statements of Narain Singh Chaura, a former militant trained in Pakistan apprehended for conspiracy in the case. Police investigations had revealed that 10 calls were exchanged between Chaura and Jagtar Singh Hawara on January 20 and January 21, 2004 (the day of the ‘escape’). Chaura was acquitted by the court on Tuesday.
Speaking to Newsline, KIP Singh claimed that he had “never been summoned” to appear before the court. He claims that he had recorded his statements before the Chief Judicial Magistrate court at the Burail Jail in 2009 and also presented evidence in the final arguments of the case. “I was due for cross-examination in 2010. But the defence lawyer responsible for cross-examination had died. Afterwards, I was never summoned to appear before the court,” Singh said.
Amandeep Singh, who had failed to identify his signatures on a seizure memo in the court on March 7, 2014, is currently serving as the Deputy Superintendent of Jails; responsible for the supervision of Burail Jail from where the assassins of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh; Paramjit Singh Bheora, Jagtar Singh Hawara, Jagtar Singh Tara and Devi Singh, a murder convict had escaped in 2004. Amandeep was then the Deputy Superintendent of Burail Model Jail.
Seized case records — letters and applications written by accused Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjit Singh Bheora — were taken into possession through a memo signed by Amandeep Singh at the time. During cross-examination, Amandeep failed to identify his signatures on the seized memo and claimed they were signed by someone else.
Despite repeated attempts to contact him, Amandeep Singh was unavailable for comment. According to Burail Jail officials, he is on an official visit to New Delhi.
When asked about action taken against the two officials, Inspector General of Chandigarh police R P Upadhyay said the police are examining the details of the judgment and necessary steps would be taken in
UT Home Secretary Anurag Agarwal said a report from IG (Prisons) A S Cheema was awaited. Agarwal said action would only be taken against the officials present for prosecution once the findings of the report have been looked into.
Five more government officials turned hostile in the case. Ram Mehar, warder at Burail Jail claimed to have heard noises coming from barrack number 7 and informing jail officials who were there on patrol duty. During cross-examination, Mehar said “It would be wrong to assume that inmates of the barrack did not allow the official deputed outside their barrack to look inside.”
Constable Jagtar Singh, warder at Burail Jail also claimed hearing noises from the barrack. He claimed to hear the noise of scratching of a weapon and television being watched at a high volume and informing the same to PA Rana and ‘chakkar havildar’ Nishan Singh, who said they would inform senior officials, but did not do so. During cross-examination, Mehar said his statements had never been recorded by the police or any official. He also claimed that it would be wrong to assume that his seniors had coerced him into changing his statements.
Charanjit Singh Gujral who was a subdivision lineman, Gurnam Singh, an electricity official, and Sukhwinder Singh, junior engineer at the electricity department, said they could not tell at whose instance the iron chains were recovered as the person was standing 15 metres away from them and had covered his face with a blanket.