A special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday sentenced 47 policemen to life imprisonment in connection with the 1991 Pilibhit fake encounter case. They were convicted for killing 10 Sikh pilgrims in staged encounters in Uttar Pradesh's Pilibhit district 25 years ago. The court also directed the victims’ families to be paid a compensation of Rs 14 lakh, an order that the relatives of the convicts protested. The 47 policemen were convicted in the case on April 1, The Indian Express reported.
According to reports, in July 1991, the policemen pulled the 10 victims out of a bus, gunned them down in three separate staged encounters and later tried to claim they had killed Khalistani militants. The policemen are believed to have carried out the attacks to collect the bounty for killing militants in Uttar Pradesh, at a time when the state was plagued with insurgency.
While 57 policemen were named in a chargesheet in the case in 1995, 10 died during the course of the 25-year-long trial. The Times of India reported that 27 of the 47 held guilty on Friday have gone missing, and that the policemen were not produced before the court when the verdict was pronounced. The report quoted officials as saying that many of them had disappeared after taking long holidays, while others who retired during the decades-long trial have gone underground.