Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Social Sciences - Berlin Graduate School of Social Science

Guneet Kaur

Guneet Kaur

BGSS Generation 2021



State Mass Crimes in Punjab: Constitutional Rights and Remedies in conflicted space



Prof. Anna-Bettina Kaiser



The objective of this doctoral research is to do a critical, interdisciplinary analysis of the origin of state mass crimes in Panjab (India) from 1975-1995 and the constitutional remedy responses to these crimes after the Supreme Court of India judgment in Paramjit Kaur v. State of Punjab. A year after documenting that security agencies secretly cremated over 2000 people in just three crematoria in only one district of Punjab, Jaswant Singh Khalra was kidnapped and disappeared by Punjab Police officers. After his abduction, a habeas corpus petition was moved in the Supreme Court (SC) by his wife, Mrs Paramjit Kaur. This petition also started the judicial scrutiny of allegations of state mass crimes of "unidentified/unclaimed" cremations and the final judgement kicked off a series of constitutional remedy processes.

These state mass crimes occurred in the foreground of a litany of security legislation. These laws create legislative deviations from the existing due process protections to citizens. The research aims to understand the relationship between these legislative deviations and state criminality in Punjab. It will historically contextualize the legal conversations that followed the judicial cognizance of state violence within remedy and accountability related conversations in the constitution-making process that followed the mass violence of partition of India. It will segregate narrative strands, normative frameworks, or lack thereof, and constitutional schemes that entangled during these remedy processes.