Chandigarh, Oct 17 (IANS) A day after Shaurya Chakra awardee Balwinder Singh Sandhu, who fought Sikh militants in Punjab in the 1980s, was shot dead by two assailants in Punjab's Tarn Taran district, his widow on Saturday blamed the militants for the killing.
The killing was linked to those who were advocating 'Referendum 2020', she said.
"It is the handiwork of the Khalistani terrorists as my family did not have any personal enmity with anyone," Sandhu's wife Jagdish Kaur told the media.
"His killing is the first step of the onset of 'Referendum 2020' in Punjab," she added.
'Referendum 2020', propagated globally by the banned Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), is a pro-Khalistan movement to 'liberate' Punjab as a 'nation' state.
Sandhu was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen almost a year after the government withdrew his security cover. He was cremated at his native place.
"We have lost a family member but that doesn't mean that we are afraid of militants. We are still strong enough to fight with them," Jagdish Kaur said.
A diehard Communist and 1993 Shaurya Chakra awardee, Balwinder Singh was shot at point blank range around 7 a.m. at his hometown Bhikhiwind, some 35 km from Tarn Taran town, once a hub of militancy in the 80s and early 90s.
He was rushed to a nearby hospital with five bullet injuries, but doctors declared him dead.
Balwinder, 62, had survived several attacks when Sikh militancy was at its peak in the state.
Balwinder, a Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI) district committee member, rose to fame internationally for his bravery and once featured in a National Geographic documentary.
His wife, Jagdish Kaur, is also a district committee member of the RMPI, led by Mangat Ram Pasla.
Balwinder was awarded the Shaurya Chakra for his exemplary courage.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered the constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by the DIG of Ferozepur to probe all angles in the fatal attack.
Condoling the death, the Chief Minister directed Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta to ensure speedy investigation to identify and bring to book the culprits at the earliest.
A CCTV footage from the area shows that one of the two assailants entered the house of the victim and fired at Balwinder Singh.