A day after pronouncing Jagtar Singh Tara guilty in the case of assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, the district court of Chandigarh on Saturday sentenced him to life imprisonment. “The Court has passed the order for life imprisonment for him,” Tara’s lawyer said.
Chief Secretary of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Roop Singh said, “Jagtar Singh Tara murdered Beant Singh out of emotions and not due to land or property dispute. Murdering someone is bad but he has been given punishment after 22 years. It’s painful for family as well as for the Sikh community.”
Confessing his crime in January, Tara had submitted a letter to the court stating, “I have no regret for killing Beant Singh”. He had also said that Shaheed Udham Singh, who assassinated Michael O’Dwyer, was his inspiration to kill Beant. He also admitted that he purchased the car used for the assassination of Beant and they all waited for the best opportunity to kill the former CM.
As per the defence counsel, in the letter, Tara had stated that he took inspiration from Sikh history and tradition, which taught him not to bear injustice, and the circumstances at that time were intolerable when innocent Sikh youths were being brutally murdered. Earlier, Balwant Singh Rajoana was also convicted in the assasination case. The Chandigarh police had arrested nine persons for the assassination of Beant Singh while six others booked in the case were later declared proclaimed offenders by the court.
Beant was killed in a bomb blast outside Punjab and Haryana secretariat on August 31, 1995. The explosion had killed 17 others, including Punjab Police constable Dilawar Singh, who acted as a human bomb. Tara was charged under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and under Sections 3 and 4 of the Explosive Substances Act.
The trial began in the district court in 1995. However, in 2004, Jagtar Singh Tara, Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjeet Singh Bheora escaped from the high-security Burail Model Jail in Chandigarh after digging a tunnel. In 2006, Jagtar Singh Hawara was arrested by the Punjab Police from Patiala.
Among those convicted, Jagtar Singh Hawara and Balwant Singh Rajoana were sentenced to death. However, Hawara appealed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which commuted his sentence to life imprisonment. Currently, he is lodged in Tihar jail in Delhi. Rajoana, who did not appeal against the death sentence, is currently in Patiala jail.
Among the other convicts, Shamsher Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Lakhwinder Singh were sentenced to life imprisonment and Naseeb Singh was sentenced 10 years of imprisonment.