Balwant Singh Rajoana is a former Punjab police constable and member of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), who is notorious for being a convict in the assassination of the former Chief Minister of Punjab Beant Singh.
Wiki/Biography & Career
Balwant Singh Rajoana was born on Wednesday 23 August 1967 (age 55 years, as of 2022) in Rajoana Kalan in the Ludhiana district of Punjab. His zodiac sign is Virgo. He studied till the eleventh standard in the local village and then was listed in college for further studies. As a part of the government’s welfare scheme, Balwant Singh was given a job in the Punjab Police in 1987 as a constable after his father was killed by some militants. In 1993, Rajoana was deputed as a private security officer with a journalist of a vernacular daily in Patiala.
Height (approx.): 5′ 11″
Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
Rajoana’s father, Malkeet Singh, was an army man and sarpanch of Rajoana Kalan who terrorists killed. Apparently, the terrorists had come to kill Malkeet Singh’s brother who had also served as the sarpanch of the village. While trying to stop one of the terrorists, Malkeet Singh was shot dead. Rajoana’s mother’s name is Gurmeet Kaur. His elder brother’s name is Kulwant Singh.
Balwant Singh Rajoana was legally adopted by Jaswant Singh in 1993 after his own father Malkeet Singh passed away. His foster parents, Jaswant Singh and Surjit Kaur, lost their daughter, Amandeep Kaur, and son, Harpinder Singh Goldy, during the insurgency in Punjab in the mid-1980s. Allegedly, Amandeep and Harpinder were abducted and killed by the Punjab Police. Surjit Kaur died in 2013 after being electrocuted by a defective electric fan. Jaswant Singh died on 22 January 2022. Rajoana’s other foster sister, Kamaldeep Kaur, is a politician. As the joint candidate of the SAD-BSP, Kamaldeep Kaur contested the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat in Punjab in the 2022 bypolls.
He is unmarried.
Humiliation During Insurgency in Punjab
In October 1991, Balwant Singh Rajoana’s foster sister Amandeep Kaur was abducted from the office of the sub-registrar in Rampura Phul, where she was visiting with her father and husband for the registration of her marriage. They were then taken to the Phul Police Station where SSP Kahlon was in-charge. At the police station, the three were mistreated by stripping naked in front of each other, making them slap each other, and being robbed of all their jewels and cash. Amandeep Kaur was sexually assaulted during her illegal detention. Meanwhile, her mother, Surjeet Kaur, was abducted, raped, and illegally detained in a Rampura police station. After Amandeep was released by the police, her husband left her. Thereafter, she was on the run from SSP Kahlon to escape further humiliation and torture. She stayed in hiding until 21 January 1992 when she was tricked to come back home, where she was shot dead. Apparently the police had come for Amandeep’s brother, Harpinder Singh Goldy, who had gone underground after being harassed by police.
The assassination of Beant Singh
On 31 August 1995, Dilawar Singh Babbar, along with the backup bomber Balwant Singh Rajoana, reached the secretariat complex in a freshly painted white Ambassador bearing Delhi licence plates. Dilawar Singh wore his Punjab Police uniform underneath which 1.5 kg of explosives in a bandolier-shaped belt was tied around his waist. After a while when Balwant left, Dilawar scribbled a couplet in Gurmukhi script on a piece of paper which read,
Je mein shaheedan di yaad wich geet na gaaye, teh ohna diyan ruhan Kuralun giyan”
(If I don’t recite rhymes in memory of the martyrs their souls would be tormented).
At 5.10 p.m., three white Ambassadors pulled up near the VIP portico at the secretariat complex to pick up the CM. Just when Beant Singh was about to step into the car, Dilawar walked toward his bullet-proof car and pressed the button of the bomb. Along with Beant Singh, the explosion claimed the lives of 17 others including 3 Indian commandos and Beant Singh’s close friend Ranjodh Singh Mann. Later, BKI claimed responsibility for Beant Singh’s death and attributed the deep-rooted criminal conspiracy to the indiscriminate atrocities against the innocent Sikhs during his tenure as CM.
Other Convicts in the Assassination of Beant Singh
An abandoned Ambassador car with a Delhi number recovered by the Chandigarh police in September 1995 led to the arrest of the first convict Lakhwinder Singh. By February 1996, the police discovered other conspirators, Gurmeet Singh, Naseeb Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, Navjot Singh, Jagtar Singh Tara, Shamsher Singh, Jagtar Singh Hawara, Balwant Singh Rajoana, and Paramjit Singh Bheora.
Dilawar Singh Babbar (Assassin)
Dilawar Singh was a serving Punjab Police officer.
Jagtar Singh Hawara (Mastermind)
Hawara is considered to be one of the masterminds behind the plot to kill Beant Singh. A member of the BKI, Hawara arranged the explosives and finances to purchase the Ambassador car used in the assassination. In January 2004, he escaped, along with Tara and one another, from the high-security jail in Chandigarh after digging a 110-foot-long tunnel. However, he was rearrested in 2005 from Dehli. Later, his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
Jagtar Singh Tara (Mastermind)
Tara, another mastermind behind the assassination, worked as a mechanic-cum-taxi driver in Delhi. An active member of BKI, Tara helped Hawara to purchase an ambassador car and bring it to Chandigarh, where he got it re-painted to enter the secretariat complex. Tara was arrested in September 1995 in Delhi. However, he escaped with Hawara during the trial of the case in 2004 and was on the run for 11 years. He was later arrested in Thailand in 2015. In 2018, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Lakhwinder Singh was a Punjab Armed Police constable attached to the official vehicle wing of the secretariat. Gurmeet Singh was a diploma holder in engineering, who worked for a Chandigarh service centre of a consumer electronics company. Shamsher Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, and Gurmeet Singh were given life imprisonment by the court of R K Sondhi in the makeshift courtroom of Burail Jail. Meanwhile, Naseeb Singh was given 10 years imprisonment, which he had already undergone during the trial spanning over 11 years. The seventh accused Navjot Singh was acquitted by the special court.
On 25 December 1997, Balwant Singh Rajoana confessed his hand in Beant Singh’s killing in the makeshift courtroom of Burail Jail, Chandigarh. Before being silenced, he raised pro-Khalistan slogans,
Khalistan zindabad, Bhai Dilawar Singh zindabad!”
His confession left the prison authorities and journalists awestruck who then asked Rajoana, “Why would someone at such a time want to give up his life?” to which Rajoana replied,
Tusi key jano dosti kinj nebhai jandi hai (How do you know the way of living up to friendship)?”
Apparently, Dilawar and Balwant had tossed a coin to decide who would become the suicide bomber. So when Dilawar won the fatal toss and agreed to lose his life, he asked Balwant Singh to confess his hand in the crime. In his testimony, Balwant Singh revealed that he had tied the belt containing the explosives around Dilawar Singh. Rajoana had bought nuts & bolts and ball bearings from a Patiala scrap market to stuff into the belt for the maximum capacity. He defended his actions citing the deep wounds on the Sikh psyche caused by questionable methods the government had used to put down the Khalistan movement including Operation Blue Star. He spoke of the aftereffects of Indira Gandhi’s assassination when Sikhs were burnt, denied funeral rites, and emasculated and women were dishonoured. Rajoana asked the Chief Justice,
Who were the terrorists: those who did these acts or those who defended the victims?…Human beings can fight such injustice and oppression only by becoming human bombs and sacrificing themselves.”
Thereafter, he alleged that Beant Singh had approved fake encounter killings, abductions, and secret cremations, which remained unpunished. Furthermore, he added that the government had mocked the sentiments of the Sikh community by honouring and promoting those that led such pogrom against Sikhs.
The special CBI court gave the death sentence to Rajoana in the Beant Singh case on 1 August 2007. Rajoana was jailed in Patiala Central Jail when the Chandigarh court issued the death warrant to the Patiala jail authorities for executing Rajoana scheduled on 31 March 2012. The death warrant sparked protests among the Sikh communities all around the world who considered Rajoana’s actions as need of the hour.
Though Rajoana didn’t file any mercy petition of his own, in 2012, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) filed a petition to cancel his death sentence with President Pratibha Patil, which was to be carried out on March 31 2012 at the Patiala Central Jail. Additionally, Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal also met Pratibha Patil seeking clemency for Rajoana. Thereafter, his execution was stayed. In a letter released from the prison, Rajoana criticised the Punjab government led by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for attempting to save his life. He stated that the SAD leaders were cheaters and did not fight for justice for the Sikhs who were killed in the 1984 riots. In May 2022, The SC directed the Centre to decide within two months Rajoana’s plea that his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment on the grounds of his long incarceration of nearly 26 years.
A staunch follower of Sikhism, Rajoana was baptized (Amrit Sanchar) in Patiala central jail in the presence of Akal Takht Jathedar while he was on death row in Beant Singh’s assassination case.
Balwant Singh Rajoana is politically inclined toward the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and strongly opposes Indian National Congress (INC). In his address at Gurdwara Baba Deep Singh of Ludhiana, where he was attending his father’s last rites, he supported the SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and said,
Meri rooh akali, mera dal akali, main akali.. iss dharti tey sarkaar akali…
(My soul is Akali, my heart is Akali, I am Akali.. there should be an Akali government on this earth)
He also added,
Akali Dal is our own party and it is representative of our panth. End Congress’ rule.”
- Of all those who were convicted in the Beant Singh case, Balwant Singh was the only one who confessed his guilt. He refused to contest the prosecution’s charges, challenge its evidence, engage a lawyer, or accept a court-appointed lawyer.
- Balwant Singh, in his will, donated his eyes to Lakhwinder Singh (Ragi at Golden Temple Amritsar) and his kidneys, heart, and various other body parts to needy patients.
- He is a voracious reader of Punjabi literature. Surjit Patar and Jaswant Singh Kanwal are his favourite writers.
- Akal Takht leader Gurbachan Singh had given clothes to Rajoana to wear during his execution. However, he returned the clothes when his death penalty was stayed.
- The title of “Living Martyr” was bestowed upon Rajoana by Akal Takhat, the highest temporal seat of the Khalsa, on 23 March 2012. After refusing to accept it for a while, Rajoana accepted the title. Meanwhile, Dilawar Singh Babbar was awarded the title of “National Martyr” by Akal Takhat.
- On 31 January 2022, he was escorted by the Police to attend his foster father’s funeral in Ludhiana after he was granted permission by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
- In December 2015, Rajoana made headlines when he manhandled a senior journalist Kanwar Sandhu and the controversially dismissed cop Gurmeet Singh Pinky when the latter tried to meet him in the Patiala jail premises for an interview. Apparently, Rajoana attributed his outrageous behaviour to Sandhu having levelled baseless allegations against him at Pinky’s behest. Previously, Sandhu, who ran the Free Media Initiative, had interviewed Pinky at length. In the interview, Pinky alleged that Rajoana had called him to the Burail jail in Chandigarh and informed him that Jagtar Singh Hawara and the others involved in the Beant Singh assassination were planning to escape for which RDX had been smuggled into the jail. He said that on the information provided by Rajoana, the RDX was recovered and the jailbreak plan foiled.