Assassin on death row wants to be baptized a Sikh



Chandigarh/Amritsar: Balwant Singh, a terrorist who has been convicted for the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh and is on a death row, has expressed his desire to be baptized a Sikh.

The terrorist, who is lodged in Chandigarh's high security Burail jail, has sought this as his last wish before being hanged.

Gurbachan Singh, head (Jathedar) of the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikh religion located at the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, who received a letter last week from Balwant Singh's sister, has asked the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) to work out arrangements for the convict's baptism.

In the letter, Balwant Singh expressed the desire to die as an 'amritdhari' (baptized) Sikh. Balwant Singh is a Sikh by religion but has not been baptised, which means he doesn't necessarily follow the strict tenets of the faith.

The Akal Takht head said: "We have asked the SGPC to work out the arrangements in this regard. I will go with 'Panj Piaras' (the five chosen religious ones of the Sikh gurus) to the jail to help him become an Amritdhari Sikh."

Balwant Singh was convicted by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court here in the assassination conspiracy of then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.

The former chief minister (1992-95), who was largely credited with wiping out terrorism from Punjab by dealing with terrorists with an iron hand along with supercop K.P.S. Gill, was assassinated by a human bomb, Dilawar Singh, at the high security Punjab civil secretariat here Aug 31, 1995.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had October this year upheld the death sentence to Balwant Singh, who has not opposed the gallows awarded to him after a 11-year trial in a special court here July 2007.

While Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara was the mastermind of the assassination, Balwant Singh was the second human bomb to be used in case the first failed to kill Beant Singh.

Balwant Singh, during the entire 11-year trial, had admitted that he alone was responsible for the killing of Beant Singh. He even refused to oppose in the high court the death penalty awarded to him by the trial court.

The high court, while upholding his death penalty, had converted Hawara's death penalty to life imprisonment.

IANS