Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana

Balwant Singh Rajoana is a Sikh from Punjab, India convicted for the assassination of Beant Singh (former Chief Minister of Punjab) on August 31, 1995. Rajoana was sentenced to death by a special CBI court in India. Beant Singh was killed by Balwant Singh's associate Dilawar Singh Jaisinghwala and Balwant Singh was the backup human bomb to be used had Dilawar failed in his mission.

Early years

Balwant Singh was born in Rajoana Kalan village near Raikot in Ludhiana district of Punjab into a traditional Sikh family. In 1986, he joined the Punjab Police. According to his elder brother Kulwant Singh, Balwant was a pacifist and was opposed to any kind of violence. As a child, he was fond of reading ghazals, novels and poetry. The works of Surjit Paatar and Jaswant Singh Kanwal played an important role in shaping his ideology.

Assassination of Beant Singh

In Punjab between 1992 and 1995, at a time when the Khalistan separatist movement was active in the state and the Indian government was aggressively seeking to control the movement. It is alleged that, during Beant Singh's tenure, tens of thousands of Sikhs were killed and their bodies cremated by the police in extrajudicial executions. Rajoana, who was a police constable at that time, conspired with Dilawar Singh Babbar, a police officer, to kill Beant Singh. Based on a coin toss, Babbar was chosen to be the suicide bomber with Rajoana as a backup. The attack on 31 August 1995 resulted in the death of Beant Singh and 17 others, and, on 25 December 1997, Rajoana confessed his involvement.

Conviction and death sentence

Balwant Singh had "openly confessed" an involvement and strongly expressed no faith in Indian judiciary. He refused to defend himself and refused to take a lawyer. He accused Indian courts of applying dual standards of law and the Indian judicial system of shielding the culprits of 1984 anti-Sikh riots."Asking for mercy from them (Indian courts) is not even in my distant dreams" Rajoana said in an open letter to Media.

Explaining his actions, Balwant Singh referred to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and talked about how the perpetrators had not been punished even after 25 years. In a letter to the Chief Justice of the High Court, he complained about discrimination at the hands of the country's judicial system and the rulers. Rajoana defended his actions citing the 1984 Operation Blue Star offensive at the Golden Temple and the killing of Sikhs during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Rajoana was sentenced to death by a special CBI court and his execution was scheduled for 31 March 2012. In his will, Balwant Singh said that his wish was to donate his eyes to Lakhwinder Singh (Ragi at Golden Temple Amritsar) and his kidneys, heart or any other body part to needy patients. On March 28, 2012 India's Home Ministry stayed the execution following clemency appeals filed by the SGPC, a Sikh organization.

On stay of his execution, Balwant Singh said, I have dedicated my life to the Panth and have no regrets. So the stay doesn't make any difference to me". He also added, "This is a victory of real Khalsa Panth after every member of the Sikh Nation rose to the occasion and successfully conveyed the strength of the Khalsa religion. I am ready to be hanged at any time and will live till the God permits me. My happiness over the stay shouldn't be considered as my weakness. I am happy because Sikh nation has shacked the walls of Delhi government, not because my hanging has been postponed."

Awards

On 23 March 2012, he was awarded the title of "Living Martyr" by Akal Takhat, the highest temporal seat of the Khalsa. Rajoana initially refused to accept the title, but later on 27 March, he accepted the title, saying that it will make him "more determined" towards his goals. Dilawar Singh Jaisinghwala was also awarded the title of "National Martyr" in the same order from Akal Takht.

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