EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 20/09/95
UA 80/95 "Disappearance" 28 March 1995
INDIA Jaswinder Kaur, aged 17, female
Darshan Singh, her father
Jaswinder Kaur and her father, Darshan Singh, have not been seen since they
were taken on separate dates from their home in Mohalla Sadavarat, Ropar, Punjab,
by members of the Ropar branch of the Criminal Investigation Agency (CIA).
There are serious concerns for their safety.
On 26 February 1995, CIA officials, who were reportedly looking for Jaswinder
Kaur's husband, Surinder Singh, raided the family's home and took Jaswinder
Kaur away. They did not have an arrest warrant, and reportedly beat the
17-year-old despite the efforts of neighbours to stop them. On 6 March, CIA
officials returned to the family home and took Darshan Singh away with them.
Police subsequently confiscated the house, making Jaswinder Kaur's mother
and children homeless.
Two habeas corpus petitions have been filed at the Punjab and Haryana High
Court. The first concerned the confiscation of the house. As a result of
a second petition filed on 23 March, regarding the "disappearance" of Jaswinder
Kaur and Darshan Singh, a warrant officer visited Ropar police station but
was unable to establish the whereabouts of the girl and her father. The police
have reportedly filed an affidavit denying the arrest of Jaswinder Kaur and
Darshan Singh. The next hearing in the case is set for 6 April.
Amnesty International regularly receives reports that alleged members or
sympathizers of armed opposition groups, or their relatives, in Punjab have
"disappeared" or been killed in police custody, often after torture. Officials
later wrongly attribute their deaths or "disappearances" to "encounters"
between militants and the police, to "escapes" during such an "encounters"
or to other improbable causes.
Even though legal safeguards against unacknowledged detention exist in India's
ordinary criminal law and procedural code, they are often simply not adhered
to and prisoners are held in unacknowledged detention for weeks and sometimes
In cases where allegations such as this are brought before the courts in Punjab,
legal proceedings are extremely slow and often police fail to comply with the
orders of the court. The case of Harjit Singh is representative of this inaction
by the authorities in Punjab -- although an investigation into his
"disappearance" was ordered by the High Court in December 1992 to be completed
within three months, the hearing is still in progress (see UA 44/94, ASA
20/04/94, 11 February 1994).
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams, faxes and airmail letters either
in English or in your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of Jaswinder Kaur and Darshan Singh who
have not been seen since they were taken away by CIA officials from Ropar on
26 February 1995 and 6 March respectively;
- urging the government to ensure that officials of the CIA comply with any
orders of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana which may result from the habeas