TARN TARAN: Civilian Shaurya Chakra awardee Balwinder Singh Sandhu, who braved at least 42 documented attempts on his life to fight terrorism in Punjab since the heyday of militancy, was shot dead early Friday by two unidentified assailants outside his school at Bhikhiwind in Tarn Taran district.
The 62-year-old’s wife Jagdish Kaur Sandhu, also a Shaurya Chakra recipient, said her husband had been killed for opposing Referendum 2020, a campaign by a US-based secessionist group to “liberate Punjab” by this year. “It is a terrorist attack, we have no personal enmity with anyone,” she told TOI.
Chief minister Amarinder Singh set up a special investigative team (SIT) headed by the Ferozepur DIG to probe the killing and asked DGP Dinkar Gupta to ensure the culprits were quickly brought to justice.
Balwinder, who along with his family had once fought off a 200-strong band of terrorists that attacked their house with rocket launchers and other sophisticated weapons, was struck by five bullets fired from point-blank range just as he opened the gate to his school. Balwinder was declared dead on arrival at the nearest hospital.
Tarn Taran SSP DH Nimble said the police had registered a case under sections 302 and 34 (murder and common intention) of the IPC along with sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act against unknown assailants. There were no arrests till late in the night.
Sources said criminal cases were pending against Balwinder’s sons and his murder could be linked to rivalry or animosity.