Patiala: 23 years after policemen in Amritsar tattooed the words ‘jeb katri’ (pickpocket) on the foreheads of four women, a special CBI court here has sentenced three cops in the case which had sparked widespread condemnation.
Special CBI judge Baljinder Singh on Friday awarded three years Rigorous Imprisonment (RI) to the then superintendent of police Sukhdev Singh Chinna and sub-inspector Narinder Singh Malli, who was then SHO of Rambagh police station. He also awarded one year Rigourous Improsonment to ASI Kanwaljit Singh.
Punjab Police had drawn widespread criticism for the infamous incident dating back to December 1993, when cops in Amritsar tattooed the words ‘jeb katri’ on the foreheads of four habitual offender women who were accused of stealing a purse.
The case came to the fore when during the hearing of the pickpocketing case, police produced the four in the court with their foreheads covered with a ‘dupatta’. One of the women showed to the court the tattoo on her forehead and the story hit the headlines.
The National Human Rights Commission had also taken a serious view of the incident.
The victims filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1994, praying for directions to the respondents, the government of Punjab, Amritsar superintendent of police, and others, for arranging plastic surgery for removal of the tattoo, giving compensation for the inhuman act and humiliation, and punishing the guilty cops.
On January 17, 1994, the NHRC not only approached the high court to become a party in the case, but also sent a letter to the Punjab chief secretary, seeking a report on the matter.
NHRC had also submitted an affidavit in the court, demanding a CBI probe.
After hearing the counsel of the NHRC and petitioners, the high court handed over the probe to the CBI, and also directed Punjab government to arrange for plastic surgery for the victims and pay compensation of Rs 50,000 to each of them, as recommended by the rights body.
CBI filed a challan in 2015 under Sections 326 (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 342 (wrongful confinement), 346 (wrongful confinement in secret) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
As per the petition, the victims alleged that they had gone to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar on December 8, 1993. After paying obeisance when they reached the bus stand, ASI Kanwaljit Singh stopped them and kept them in custody from December 8 to 15.
Later, the ASI on the directions of the SP and SHO, got the word pickpocket tattooed on their foreheads.
Police had alleged that it was the women’s neighbours who had done the deed “to make people aware about their misdeeds”.