EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 20/60/92
UA 397/92 Fear of "Disappearance" 17 December 1992
INDIA: Jagwinder Singh, 24, lawyer
Amnesty International has recently learnt that Jagwinder Singh was arrested
on the 25 September 1992 and is concerned that he may have "disappeared".
According to reports received, three uniformed policemen entered Jagwinder
Singh's house on 25 September 1992 at around 6.30 am and informed him that
they were Central Investigation Bureau staff and that the Senior Superintendent
of Police, Kapurthala, wanted to consult him over a legal matter. He was taken
from the house and has not been seen since. His family has signed affidavits
stating that they witnessed the police taking Jagwinder Singh away from his
house in Mahalla Laxmi Nagar, Kapurthala.
Shortly afterwards, the Kapurthala and Jalandhar District Bar Associations
went on strike in protest against the arrest of Jagwinder Singh. A delegation
of lawyers visited the Senior Superintendent of Police, Kapurthala, who, denied
any knowledge of Jagwinder Singh's arrest. Since then a series of protests
by lawyers in Punjab have taken place and several reports have appeared in
the local and national press. The Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary and the
Finance Minister of Punjab state have reportedly assured lawyers that the
whereabouts of Jagwinder Singh will be disclosed but to date his whereabouts
remain unknown. Jagwinder Singh is a 24 year-old lawyer from the District Courts
in Kapurthala, Punjab.
Amnesty International regularly receives reports of torture, "disappearances"
and unacknowledged detention of people arrested in Punjab on suspicion of being
members or sympathizers of one of the Sikh opposition groups advocating a
separate Sikh state, "Khalistan". In some cases the detainees are eventually
found to have died in custody, while others are found to have been deliberately
killed in custody although official reports say they died in "encounters" with
the police. Even though legal safeguards against torture and unacknowledged
detention exist in India's ordinary criminal law and procedural code, they
are often not adhered to. In addition, special legislation grants the security
forces arbitrary powers to arrest and detain people without ordinary legal
safeguards and without charge or trial and prisoners are held in illegal
detention for weeks and sometimes months.
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