This week @thecaravanindia editor @HartoshSinghBal attacked survivors of police brutality & human rights orgs while launching outlandish conspiracy theories about global Sikhs. It’s a puzzling defense of his uncle, KPS Gill, commonly known as the “Butcher of Punjab”.
(TW: police brutality & sexual assault)

For years, KPS Gill served as the head of Punjab Police. His reign was brutal. Under his watch thousands were tortured, killed, and raped. This was all by Gill’s design.
According to @HRW, KPS Gill ran a criminal police system in which he, “expanded a bounty system of rewards for police...encouraging them to resort to extrajudicial executions & disappearances.“

The more Sikhs the police killed, the more Gill rewarded them.
Gill is also infamous for the abduction & brutal murder of human rights warrior Jaswant Singh Khalra—who after discovering that security forces were killing & illegally disappearing thousands of Sikhs, traveled the world warning of the brutality happening in Punjab.
While on a trip to Canada, the community worried for his safety & warned Khalra not to return. But he felt he had more work to do. Upon arriving back in Punjab, he was quickly kidnapped & murdered with “eyewitness testimony implicating KPS Gill” - @hrw
Since his murder in 1995, local & int’l human rights orgs have continued Khalra’s work, while Hartosh Bal has consistently attacked them. Bal continues to eulogize his uncle KPS Gill, while working to repair Gill’s tarnished legacy as a mass murderer & accused sexual predator.
As an anti-Modi voice at The Caravan, Bal is given access to progressive circles, including global newsrooms who have no idea of his consistent attempts to attack survivor families and whitewash police brutality.

In replying to @khalramission, Bal goes on a rather unhinged tirade:

1. Launching conspiracy theories about Sikhs
2. Makes unethical allegations about funding in an effort to defame Sikh orgs
3. Tries to question Sikh motives around the #FarmersProtest

Bal’s enablers and sycophants naturally come to his defense. As an older voice in journalism circles, Bal has a certain sphere of influence over reporters. Most of them don’t want to cross him. And thus, resort to defending him with a false conjuring of history:
No one is blaming Bal for being the nephew of a maniac mass murderer. You don’t get to pick the family you’re born into. But, using your professional platforms to continually wash away your family legacy of heinous crime is problematic historical revisionism.
Bal’s actions aren’t uncommon. During the 20th century, lots of scholarly work was done to understand the psychology of those related to mass murderers. Yes, KPS Gill joins the pantheon of the century’s most vile killers.

And there’s nothing Hartosh Bal can do to erase that.
I can’t imagine waking up everyday & knowing my uncle tortured & killed thousands of innocents while running a brutal police state. So maybe one starts rationalizing, “Well my uncle was really nice to me, might’ve even gotten me my first bike...helped me when I really needed it.”
Also, @jatinder_tur—lots of work has been done to understand why some people platform those who silence victims & survivors. Sorry you feel the need to defend this man’s reputation. But if I may, when survivors share their stories: Listen to them. Hear what they’re saying.
For a long time, supporting Bal seemed like a necessary evil for many young journalists. Now the question must be asked, if you are a journalist in Punjab & India, why are you enabling Bal’s predatory bullying towards human rights organizations and survivor families?
And Mr. Bal, if you constantly feel the need to assert that “my uncle was really nice to me, he couldn’t have possibly killed tens of thousands of people like these evil human rights orgs are reporting and instead he only killed thousands of people”—you might have lost the plot.

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