What makes Balwant Singh Rajoana such a debatable subject in Punjab? The Union Home Ministry examines the mercy petition of Balwant Singh, the man who confessed his role in the assassination of late Chief Minister of Punjab, Beant Singh.
Whether his mercy petition would be allowed or not is something that one would have to wait and see. But the people at his village, Rajoana Kala believe that he would be saved and would return to his village as nothing bad could happen at the village.
Amandeep Sandhu, author of the book Sepia Leaves is all set to come up with a new book- Role of Honour which is about Operation Blue Star. Sandhu was at Rajoanas village and spent a considerable amount of time with his mother and the rest of the residents. He shares with rediff.com the experiences regarding the man and also talks us through the reasons as to why Rajoana is such a spoken about subject in Punjab.
There are a lot of interesting things regarding the man who confessed to his role in the killing of Beant Singh. The people of Rajoana Kala say that nothing bad could happen to this village and share a historic experience. Years ago when Guru Gobind Singh was leaving on one of his historic journeys he met three brothers and sought to stay with them. He then asked the brothers to place him on a bed and carry him on his historic journey. When the journey commenced the Guru found one of the sides of the bed tilting and when he looked down he found that the fourth person carrying him was the mother of the three boys. Touched with the gesture he asked the mother to ask him for anything to which the mother sought that her sons get married and they get good work. The Guru granted the wishes and also gave each of the sons a village each one of which is Rajoana Kala. Since that day it is believed at the village that nothing bad would happen over there.
The other interesting point to note is that Rajoana’s father, Malkiat Singh was killed by terrorists. His father who was also an ex-army man was also the Sarpanch of the village. The terrorists had an axe to grind against Malkait Singh’s brother who was the sarpanch before him. One night Rajoana’s father heard a noise from his brothers house. He rushed to the scene and tried stopping one of the terrorists and in the bargain was shot dead.
According to the Sandhu, the villagers say that this village is the Guru’s bakshish and there is some force which protects them all. They say that Rajoana’s life has been chosen to do something big and no matter what the argument is they believe terrorism came to a halt after that incident in which Rajoana was involved.
The villagers are of the firm belief he has done 17 years in jail and death has eluded him and hence he is not destined to be hanged. Even on the day of the assassination he would have well been the person who would have blown himself up. Just before the assassination, he along with Dilawar Singh had to chose as to who would have to undertake the assassination. They tossed a coin and Jagtar was chosen to blow himself up. They also argue that it has become more of a case of abetment and he was a back up and hence cannot be hanged.
Those who know the man say that he would never ask for forgiveness and he himself has pleaded guilty. The entire trial was based on his confession and today the government after having tried him is thinking twice before hanging him. The other general perception is that in case he is hanged Punjab could be on the boil. The dynamic of Punjab are very strange and today it is quiet and such an incident could trigger up passions once again.
Sandhu says that his intention of visiting the village was to write about what Rajoana would get to see in case he returns to his village. I am sure he would be pleased as the village Rajoana Kala is still an island of purity. The menace of politics, land grabbing and narcotics for which Punjab is notorious has not yet touched this village.
His mother Gurmeet Kaur has left it up to fate. How would a mother feel about all this, she asks. I have accepted it and no mother would be happy to see her son die. The entire village stands by him and the villagers say that the issue here is not about politics of the Khalistan movement. It is just that we stand by him.
Rajoana lost his father in an unfortunate circumstance. When the mother is asked whether he held terrorists responsible for his father’s death, Rajoana never felt that way. He felt that his father died due to a mistake and his father was never their target. The villagers say that the one of the main reasons they are with him is because thanks to Beant Singh a lot of innocents lost their lives. Moreover the family of Beant Singh too has forgiven him.
According to Sandhu, most of Punjab had forgotten him and it is only now that this subject has become hotly debated. The mother too adds saying that not a single person from the media or the political fraternity had come to meet her. As I say I have left it to fate. Although no mother wants to see her child die, I am still very proud that he has not sought pardon. The Akali Takht has called him a living martyr and no one wants him hanged. Whatever is the stance of my son is my stance. A Sikh will never bow down or seek pardon when he has not done wrong. My son has donated his eyes and he never once felt any sort of intolerance towards any religion.
Even the member of the village say that this is not about the Khalistan cause as none of us believe in it. This is about Rajoana who has had a closer look at the law and felt that there is something wrong with it and hence has rejected the law.
Sandhu says that there is a lot of unity in the village which has 4000 people. They want him to return. However they would also listen to what he has to say. He had in fact said that the day on which he is hanged all of them should raise saffron flags and each one was ready with the flags before the hanging was stayed.