Braveheart Balwinder Singh Sandhu, a Shaurya Chakra awardee, who fought terrorism tooth and nail for the better part of the last three-four decades in Punjab was shot dead by two unidentified assailants at his residence-cum-school premises in Tarn Taran district last Friday. Apparently, the attack on Sandhu took place after the Punjab government withdrew his security cover, raising suspicion over the timing of the decision.
The CCTV cameras recorded the two men on motorcycles shooting him six times and then fleeing away. Hardial Singh Mann, Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Ferozepur range, said the police was looking at all possible angles to the murder, including personal enmity. “We will be able to crack this case soon,”
Meanwhile, CM Amarinder Singh ordered the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe Singh’s killing but the questions need to be asked to him and his cabinet that why was the security withdrawn from Sandhu when he was on the hit-list of the terrorists.
Sandhu’s family alleged that his security had been withdrawn earlier this year and they had been constantly trying to get in touch with Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta to redeploy the police with them.
“No one bothered. Only one person had been attached to him who too remained absent for weeks,” his widow Jagdish Kaur told reporters after the incident.
Balwinder’s house was located near the ancestral house of Parmjit Singh Panjwar, self-styled chief of the Khalistan Commando Force, who was later declared India’s “most wanted terrorist”.
Balwinder’s family is the only family in the country that has received four Shaurya Chakras. Besides Balwinder and his wife Jagdish Kaur, his elder brother Ranjit and his wife Balraj Kaur have also received the Shaurya Chakra.
“Shri Balwinder Singh Sandhu and his brother Ranjeet Singh Sandhu are opposed to the activities of terrorists. They are obviously in the hit list of the terrorists. The terrorists have so far made 16 attempts to wipe out the Sandhu family within a span of about 11 months. The terrorists attacked them in groups of 10 to 200, but everytime the Sandhu brothers with the help of the brave wives, Shrimati Jagdish Kaur Sandhu and Shrimati Balraj Kaur Sandhu have successfully foiled the attempts of militants to kill them,” the citation for the gallantry award said.
“The first attack on Sandhu family was made on 31st January 1990, and the last on 28th December 1991. But the deadliest attack was made on 30th September, 1990. On that day about 200 terrorists surrounded the Sandhu’s house from all sides and attacked them continuously for 5 hours with deadly weapons including rocket launchers. The attack was well planned and the approach road of the house was blocked by spreading underground gun mines so that no help from police forces could reach them.”
“Undaunted, the Sandhu brothers and their wives fought the terrorists with their pistols and sten guns provided by the Government. The resistance shown by the Sandhu brothers and their family members forced the terrorists to retreat. All these persons have displayed courage and bravery of a high order in facing the attack of the terrorists and foiling their repeated murderous attempts,” it added.
Reported by TFI, in July, the MHA whilst cracking down on the Khalistani movement in the country had dubbed nine individuals linked to separatist Khalistani groups including four based in the neighboring country of Pakistan as terrorists.
Wadhwa Singh Babbar, chief of terrorist organization Babbar Khalsa International (BKI); Lakhbir Singh, who heads terrorist organization International Sikh Youth Federation; Ranjeet Singh, chief of terrorist outfit Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZB) and Paramjit Singh, who leads Khalistan Commando Force, were some of the few Pakistani pro-Khalistan supporters designated as terrorists by the state.
The others named in the list were Germany-based key members of terrorist organization KZB Bhupinder Singh Bhinda and Gurmeet Singh Bagga; Hardeep Singh Nijjar: Canada based Chief of Khalistan Tiger Force, UK-based Paramjit Singh of BKI, and last but not the least Gurpatwant Singh Pannu.
The Khalistan movement has been Punjab’s Achilles heel for a long time and it is in the best interest of the state and the country that the Punjab government works in tandem with the union government to swiftly curtail the menace of extremist movement.