Shaurya Chakra awardee Balwinder Singh Sandhu was cremated Saturday amid high drama at his native village in Punjab’s Tarn Taran.
With the police failing to identify those who pumped bullets into Sandhu, his family initially refused to cremate the body unless the accused were arrested. They agreed to conduct the last rites only after an assurance was given by the Tarn Taran district administration about prompt action in the case. The administration also assured them about their request for a government job for one family member.
The police department, meanwhile, also provided three gunmen as security cover to the family.
The 62-year-old Sandhu, honoured with Shaurya Chakra in 1993 for fighting terrorism in Punjab, was gunned down Friday, months after the state government withdrew his security cover. The motorcycle-borne men pumped four bullets into him when he was at his office adjoining his home at Bhikhiwind.
Earlier, Sandhu’s wife Jagdish Kaur held both the state and central governments accountable for the intelligence failure that resulted in the killing of her husband.
“All the family members — I, my late husband, his brother Ranjit Singh Sandhu and his wife Balraj Kaur — are Shaurya Chakra awardees and this award was given by the Centre for our fight against militancy. Both the state and central governments are accountable for the intelligence failure that resulted in the killing of my husband at the hands of terrorists,” Sandhu’s wife said.
She also said if the state government failed to provide security to the family, then it was the responsibility of the Centre to do the needful.
Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Friday had set up a special investigation team headed by Ferozpur Deputy Inspector General of Police to probe the killing.
While Jagdish Kaur on Friday had termed the killing as the “handiwork of terrorists”, maintaining that their family did not have any personal enmity with anyone, the police said that they are probing all angles, including personal rivalry.
“We will look into every aspect. We are also focusing on the claims of the family. At the same time, we are also looking into personal rivalry,” said SSP Tarn Taran Dhruman H Nimbale.
The police is also looking into the three FIRs registered against Balwinder Singh’s sons Arshdeep Singh and Gagandeep Singh.
In the first FIR, Arshdeep and Gagandeep were booked along with Vattandeep Singh of village Dulla and Harchand Singh of village Kalas for allegedly firing at one Balraj Singh Boby, who was going in his car on February 21, 2019. The FIR was registered under sections 307,427,34 of IPC, and sections 25, 27, 54, 59 of Arms Act.
A second FIR was lodged on March 3, 2019 in which Arshdeep was booked under Arms Act and arrested following recovery of a country-made pistol from his possession. The third FIR, also against Arshdeeo, was registered on July 3, 2020 under Sections 148, 149 and 188 of IPC and the Arms Act following a clash between two groups.
Sandhu had fought against terrorism in the state for years, facing scores of terror attacks during the height of Khalistani militancy. His security cover was withdrawn by the state government a year ago on the recommendation of Tarn Taran police, his brother Ranjit had said, adding that their entire family had remained on the hit list of terrorists.
The Tarn Taran braveheart had also featured in some documentaries. Inspired by Sandhu and his family, many people followed him and defended themselves from terror attacks.
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