BAPU ASSA Singh — said to be the oldest convict in the state, who was sentenced to jail at the age of 93 — passed away on July 1 at the age of 98. His last rites were performed Monday. Assa was acquitted on January 10, this year. He was convicted in November 2012 by a TADA-designated court in Ludhiana.
“At least he will be at peace now… as he faced a lot of atrocities in the case. But, the Supreme Court finally acquitted him along with 11 other elderly men, who were also sentenced in the bank robbery case,” said a family
The apex court observed that the 12 were not involved in the bank dacoity, said Assa’s grandson Harkanwal Singh, adding that he was all right till the end, barring a bout of dementia. Assa’s bhog was performed at his native Badala Mahi village in Hoshiarpur district. Of Assa’s five children, including two daughters, four are settled in Canada.
At the bhog ceremony, speakers vowed to carry on with the mission of Punjab’s independence. Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion were Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann, Bhai Daljit Singh, Mandhir Singh, Bhai Mohkam Singh.
Assa was sentenced to jail for 10 years after being convicted with nine others for dacoity at Punjab National Bank, Industrial Branch, Ludhiana, in 1987. Assa was 68 then. Though the court also held that while Assa was not directly involved in the heist, he was one of the conspirators as some of the looted currency had been found on him. Assa was then sent to Hoshiarpur jail and in June 2013, he was injured and hospitalised following an assault by fellow inmates. Out on parole, Assa was laid up at home for two months.
Finally, when he showed signs of mental disturbance, SC granted him bail. Assa remained on bail till January this year when he was finally acquitted.
Assa was arrested after the robbery and spent a year-and-a half in jail before getting bail. He was re-arrested , after sentencing, 25 years later. A farmer and former executive member of Akali Dal (Mann), he was picked up by police several times during the years of militancy because of his proximity to Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. But he was never involved in any terror activity.