'Government's security forces cannot do anything without the help of the Cats. Terminating these groups is out of the questions.' (K.P.Gill, India Today)
Surrey, BC (KP) - Last week Panthic Weekly broke the news that Kulbir Singh 'Bollah', an alleged police informer and police Cat had surfaced in British Columbia, and was staying with a Sikh family in Surrey.
Bollah, who hails from the village of Badlaa Kotla, near Khanaa, joined ranks with the Punjab security forces in 1988 and began working as an informant to provide information on the activities and whereabouts of Sikh freedom fighters during the 1980s. Many of the individuals arrested or killed due to Bollah's involvement were associated with the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, or Babbar Khalsa.
When the 11 member executive committee of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha (International) learned of Bollah's presence in the BC area, a memo was sent out to all it's international units detailing Bollah's past and cautioning them about his present activities. (See link to memo, below)
According to the memo, Bollah collaborated with the security forces at a large scale, and is blamed for causing the harassment and molestation of many Sikh Bibis arrested due to the his involvement with the Police. The memo noted that Bollah would travel in the back of police jeeps, go village to village and identify individuals sympathetic to the Sikh cause.
Panthic Weekly spoke with the family who is hosting Kulbir Singh during his stay in the Vancouver area. According to Avtar Singh Dhillon, the son of Kulwinder Singh, the family was not aware of Bollah's background, and is not convinced that he is guilty of all the alleged activities. Dhillon stated that he had sponsored Bollah's visit in hopes of finding a suitable match for marriage in the Surrey area. Due to the unsavory publicity, all that has changed. 'We cannot deal with all this negative publicity; it is very stressful for all of us, so we have asked him to return to France", he stated.
Avtar Singh also stated that Bollah was captured and tortured by the Police in 1988, and he believes that Bollah, like other victims of police brutality, has become a victim of circumstances, and wants to clear his name.
The family believes that Bollah was used by the Police as a symbol only and that he did not provide information to the Police for all those arrests. The family has sent PW letters explaining their side of the story; they are being printed in full except names of certain individuals are being deleted due to reasons of safety. PW will not put any victims in further jeopardy by divulging their names without their approval.
Here are highlights of the family's letters :
The Family states :
- That 'this allegation against Kulbir Singh is completely a new matter that has just surfaced with his visit to Surrey, as far as we know. We were never aware that some people or any people alleged him to be a CAT.'
- That he has been living with Shingara Singh Mann in France.
- That Avtar Singh, Rupinder Kaur her father Kulwinder Singh did not know about Kulbir Singh being accused by anyone of being a CAT, or a Sikh traitor.
- That Kulbir Singh denies being a CAT. However, he is strongly urged to clarify his position regarding the allegations and his response is that he will do that once he returns to France. He has been asked him to cut short his visit and return to France to clarify his position as soon as possible.'
- That Kulbir Singh Bollah 'presented himself in front of Guru jee and Panj Piyare and has explained all that happened in 1988, has been pardoned and has been ordered to perform Tankhah.'
Links to full text of letters
Victims and Witnesses: Family is covering up for Bollah
Victims and witnesses, however tell another story. They are not convinced that the family knew nothing about Kulbir Singh. According to one witness, 'anyone who has known Bollah knows the crimes he has committed; to say otherwise is slap in the face on those families who suffered at the hands of the Police due to this informant.'
Reportedly, hundreds of individuals were affected by Bollah's 'treachery.' Panthic Weekly spoke with several of the victims. Bollah had turned on them soon after police arrested him on suspicions that he was a 'militant sympathizer.'
One of the victims, G Singh, now in his early forties, and living in Europe narrated the following:
'My family had relocated from Delhi to the village of Dhandhran after the November 1984 pogroms. My father ran a small local shop in that village so he could feed his family. I knew Kulbir Singh through one of my acquaintances from Ludhaiana. We saw each other occasionally, some times at Gurdwara programs.'
'Bollah lived in a hostel room at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) in Ludhiana, and sometimes would ask me to store things at my home saying his hostel room he has limited space.'
One early morning, around 7:00 am my home was raided by the CRPF. Incidentally I was not home on that day. A jeep showed up with several security officers, surprisingly Bollah was sitting in the back pointing of our home. He accompanied the police to our residence and pointed to some of the items he had stored at my home. One bag was removed and identified as being explosives. My elderly father and brother who witnessed all this were immediately arrested and taken to jail. My mother was harassed and left alone behind wailing.'
'I later found out a similar raid was made earlier in the village of Narangwal where some other individuals were picked up after Bollah snitched on them. At that time, I realized that I had been setup by Bollah. My family members spent a quite of bit time in jail because of his gaddaree. I can never forget what my family had to go through. The police was constantly looking for me after that raid. My life was never been the same again. We heard similar stories from others. We heard there were raids in many towns and villages, and Bollah would accompany the security forces and pinpoint the families. He has the blood of many on his hands.'
Another victim, K Singh (location withheld), reported a similar incident:
'Bollah used to visit my home occasionally; he was very fond of eating Kheer (milk pudding.) We never suspected him of being an informer. We once gave him a black 'kablee' (blanket), and the day my home was raided, he came along with security forces and was wearing the same 'kamblee.' He identified me and my elderly mother at home. The forces blamed my mother of harboring Bollah, my mother firmly denied those charges.'
'Bollah, then stepped in and said, 'Mata Jee, don't you remember me?' Who gave me this Kamblee ? Who fed me all that kheer? He had no sympathy for my elderly mother. I was arrested and went through a lot of misery. There were many others that suffered the same fate. It became common knowledge that Bollah was traveling in and out of villages and turning in anybody and everybody he had ever know, even those like my mother who had unknowingly provided food to him out of generosity. Literally hundreds of people were rounded up, many killed because of him'
'I don't know what made him do that. He seemed like a fine GurSikh. He knew a lot of bani by heart, his memory was remarkable, and he kept track of everything he did minute by minute. Most people over time forget names and places they visited in the past, but not him. He never forgot. Perhaps when he became an informant, his remarkable memory is what did him in along with everyone he knew.'
Editors' Note: Informants and Police Cats are not a new phenomenon in Punjab. What makes Bollah case so remarkable is that he did not stop at 5, 10, or even 50 arrests. By the time his services were concluded, several hundred men, women and children had suffered at the hands of the Punjab Police and the CRPF butchers. According to all the victims PW interviewed, they all lost count on the number of people Bollah turned in.
PW has been severally criticized by some for 'sensationalizing' Bollah's story. Nothing could be far from the truth. One of individuals who questioned PW's handling of this issue, quipped 'victims, victims, victims, is that all you can talk about ?'
Perhaps with our air-conditioned homes, and luxury cars, we have forgotten exactly what our responsibilities to the families of those who sacrificed everything for the Panth. What would we tell the children who never again saw the faces of their mothers, and fathers, brothers and sisters, about the fact that those who tore their loved one apart from them are being discreetly accepted back in our Sangat and community, with impunity and no involvement of the victims's families?
PW requests victims of Kulbir Singh Bollah, and victims of other perpetrators to come forward and be on public record on those experiences so those who assisted in one of the most heinous campaigns of human rights abuses in current history can be held accountable for their misdeeds. This needs to happen in a public transparent fashion, so a voice can be given to those who have been made voiceless, and justice can be applied by those who have been deprived for too long.
With our limited resources, PW can not possibly obtain the names of all the victims affected by Bollah. Here is a small start. The following short list of victims has been complied from interviews of other victims; as more names are collected they will be added for future reference:
Shaheed Bhai Varinder Singh, Ludhiana : Arrested and Killed by police after being named by Bollah.
Shaheed Bhai Major Singh, Durahaa : Arrested and Killed by police after being named by Bollah.
Shaheed Bhai Gulzar Singh (arrested at a Patiala Cinema) : Arrested and Killed by police after being named by Bollah.
Bhai G##### Singh, Europe : Father and Brother arrested and tortured by police after being named by Bollah. Mother harassed.
Bhai Bhag Singh, Malerkotla : Arrest and tortured by police after being named by Bollah.
Dr. Kulwinder Singh MBBS, Manglee : Arrest and tortured by police after being named by Bollah.
Tarlochan Singh Dentist, Phagwara : Arrest and tortured by police after being named by Bollah.
Bhai Kulbir Singh, Mundian and his uncle: Arrest and tortured by police after being named by Bollah.
##### Singh, Borra Pind : Arrest and tortured by police after being named by Bollah.
##### Singh, Makhu Pind : Arrest and tortured by police after being named by Bollah.
Elderly Singh1, Katanna Village : Arrest and tortured by police after being named by Bollah.
Elderly Singh2, Katanna Village : Arrest and tortured by police after being named by Bollah.
##### Singh, Ludhiana Bookshop Owner : Arrest and tortured by police after being named by Bollah.
(##### : indicates names that are withheld for safety and reprisal reasons.)
Link to letter from AKJ (India) regarding Bollah.
Link to full text of Family's letter1 (with some names, locations deleted)
Link to full text of Family's letter2 (with some names, locations deleted)
Official quoted regarding Police Cats: http://www.panthic.org/news/125/ARTICLE/2527/2006-06-04.html