Twenty-seven of the 47 policemen found guilty, by a CBI court in Lucknow, of killing Sikh pilgrims in a fake encounter in Pilibhit that took place about 25 years ago, have gone missing, reported The Times of India.
In the 1991 incident, 11 Sikh pilgrims were gunned down as the police claimed that they were terrorists.
The Times of India report said that the CBI had later found the Sikhs innocent and were killed in a fake encounter. CBI judge Lalloo Singh, quoted in the report, said that there was enough evidence against the policemen for "kidnapping and conspiring to kill the pilgrims in the name of terrorists."
In the latest report, sources told The Times of India that some of the cops went underground after retirement, while the others just disappeared after applying for long leaves. The report stated that the Uttar Pradesh police have launched a search to trace these missing cops and have succeeded in locating six of them.
As per the report, the court will announce the punishment on Monday during which these 27 cops need to be produced before the court as non-bailable warrants have been issued against them. Reports suggest that rest of the 20 cops were sent to judicial custody.
The incident took place in 1991, when Uttar Pradesh saw an increase in militant activities. According to The Indian Express, a local daily had reported that a few criminals have come as pilgrims. The report said that after conducting investigations, the police found a group with criminal background, including men and women, travelling in a bus on route to Pilibhit. The report further stated that eleven Sikh men were dragged out and later divided into three groups and gunned down.
As many as 57 policemen were charge-sheeted and 10 died during the course of the trial, as per the report. CBI counsel Satish Jaiswal was quoted saying that 67 prosecution witnesses were examined before the court.