South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

LUDHIANA, Punjab (September 26, 2011)–The mass level of human rights abuses in Punjab by police and para-military forces finds a Wikileaks link. A recent “expose” by Wikileaks mentions the existence of “Alam Sena” (Army of Black Cats responsible for mass tortures and killings) deployed by Mohammad Izhar Alam, a senior Punjab Police officer and a very close affiliate of Punjab CM Parkash Badal.

The communication, referred to as a “cable,” sent by the New Delhi based US Embassy on December 19, 2005 and released by Wikileaks, mentions the existence of “Alam Sena.” This cable is in response to certain issues and specific questions relating to the extradition of Kulbir Singh Barapind from the US to India.

In response to questions posed by the US asking for assistance in reviewing the assertions contained in Barapind’s submission that one of the policemen allegedly responsible for Barapind’s torture in 1988 has been promoted to the senior ranks of the Punjab police force, it is mentioned in the cable:

“With regard to former Senior Superintendent Punjab Police (Jalandhar) Mohammad Izhar Alam, we can confirm that he now holds the position of Additional Director General (Administration) Punjab Police, a senior police posting. During the [Sikh freedom movement], he assembled a large, personal paramilitary force of approximately 150 men known as the “Black Cats” or “Alam Sena” (“Alam’s Army”) that included cashiered police officers and [captured Sikh freedom fighters who defected]. The group had reach throughout the Punjab and is alleged to have had carte blanche in carrying out possibly thousands of staged “encounter killings.” (NOTE: Former Director General Punjab Police KPS Gill publicly praised the group, saying the Punjab police could not function without them. End Note.) Herkewaljit Singh told us that Alam was “at the top of the list” in authorizing encounters during the insurgency period”.

Commenting on the issue, Harpal Singh Cheema, Secretary General of Panch Pardhani said: “Such illegal associations created by senior Punjab or India police/para-military officers were involved in mass level abuses in Punjab. They killed Sikh militants in fake [and] staged encouters, [as well as] their innocent family members and other civilians during [the] Sikh armed struggle”.

He slammed the Indian State and Punjab Government for granting de facto impunity to abusers like Izhar Alam, Sumedh Saini and others.

“Instead of prosecuting these criminals for ‘crimes against humanity’, ‘enforced disappearances’ and torture, government has rewarded them with promotions and primary posts,” he added.

He claimed that Human Rights redress forums like the State and National Human Rights Commissions have drastically failed to nail the culprit officers.

Kanwarpal Singh, Secretary of Dal Khalsa has demanded an extensive probe into the issue of the existence of “Alam Sena” and its illegal acts so that the truth is brought out. Alam Sena was an infamous squad formed and headed by Izhar Alam outside the regular police or para-military structure of Punjab or India.

Izhar Alam is a proposed candidate for the forthcoming Punjab Assembly elections with the ruling political party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) or the Badal Dal’s ticket. This party, once considered to be the guardian of Sikh political rights, has fully colluded with the Indian State in what could be precisely termed as Indo-Sikh political conflict. In February, the All India Sikh Student Federation had appealed to Parkash Badal to sack Izhar Alam from the party.