Sukhdev Singh Sukha
|Sukhdev Singh Sukha|
|Birth name||Sukhdev Singh|
|Born||Chak N: 11, Ganganagar, Rajasthan, India -|
|Died||9 October 1992
Pune, Maharashtra, India
|Allegiance||Khalistan Commando Force|
|Awards||"Great Martyr' of the Sikh Nation|
Sukhdev Singh Sukha was a member of the militant organization Khalistan Commando Force and one of the assassins of Arun Vaidya, the Chief of Indian army at the time of Operation Blue Star and also the architect of Operation Blue Star. He was responsible for three high-profile killings; Arjan Dass, Lalit Maken and Gen. Vaidya. He along with other members of Khalistan Commando Force (including its chief General Labh Singh) was involved in the bank robbery in Miller Gunj branch (in Ludhiana) of the Punjab National Bank in which more than Rs 57.0 million were looted.
Early life and family background
Sukhdev Singh was born in 1962 on 14 Sawan, Wednesday, at Chak N: 11 F, Tehsil Karanpur District Ganganagar, Rajasthan. He belonged to the Saini caste. His parents, Mengha Singh Banwait and Surjeet Kaur Banwait were Sikh farmers. This Sikh family originally belonged to village Bhungarni in Hoshiarpur district. Thereafter, they relocated to Chakk 179 in the Saini Bar region of district Lyallpur in undivided Punjab. Between the years 1930 and 1933, this family once again relocated to Chak N: 11 F in district Sri Ganga Nagar of Rajasthan.
He did his early schooling from his native village and village FF 13 Manakpur. In 1983 he received his BA from Gian Joti College in Karanpur and was studying in MA English when Operation Bluestar occurred. He also left his studies and joined the Khalistan separatist movement.
Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha along with Ranjit Singh Gill gunned down Congress(I) Member of Parliament Lalit Maken on 31 July 1985, when he was moving towards his car parked across the road from his house in Kirti Nagar, New Delhi. The three assailants continued firing even as Maken ran towards his house for cover. Maken's wife Geetanjali and a visitor, Balkishan, were also caught in the firing. The assailants escaped on their scooters. Lalit Maken was considered to be involved in the killings of Sikhs during 1984 Anti-Sikh riots. In a 31-page booklet titled 'Who Are The Guilty', People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) listed 227 people who led the mobs, which killed up to 3,000 Sikhs over three days. Lalit Maken's name was third on the list. Ranjit Singh "Gill" was arrested by Interpol in New Jersey, USA on 14 May 1987, he was deported back to India in May 1997 after lengthy legal cases and was sentenced to life imprisonment on 24 February 2003.
General Arun Vaidya was the Chief of the Indian Army who ordered the attack on the holiest of the Sikh shrines at Amritsar and elsewhere in Punjab during Operation Blue Star. He had moved to Pune after his retirement from the army. On 10 August 1986 General Arun Vaidya, the architect of Operation Blue Star was shot to death by Jinda and Sukha while he was driving his car home from the market. According to the police, the assailants pulled up next to his car on motor scooters and fired eight or nine shots into the car. Vaidya reportedly died instantly of head and neck wounds. His wife, who was also in the car, was wounded by four bullets in her back and thighs. According to Indian intelligence sources, Vaidya had been the number four assassination target on lists by Sikh militants and he was one of several people killed in retaliation for Operation Blue Star. Following the assassination, the Khalistan Commando Force issued a statement declaring that Vaidya had been killed in retaliation for the Golden Temple operation.
Congress (I) leader Arjan Dass was also assassinated by the duo because of his involvement in 1984 Anti-Sikh riots. Arjan Dass's name appeared in various affidavits submitted by innocent Sikh victims to Nanavati Commission which was headed by Justice G.T. Nanavati, retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
Arrest and death
On 17 September 1986, Sukha got into an accident with a truck in Pimpri, Pune and was arrested. He was riding the same black motorcycle which was used at the time of assassination of General Vaidya.Jinda got arrested at Gurdwara Majnoo Daa Tilla, Delhi in March 1987. He was shot in the legs at the time of his arrest. During their court trial, despite admitting to the killing, they pled not-guilty, justifying their actions by saying that Vaidya was "guilty of a serious crime, the punishment for which could only be death". They were awarded death sentences at 2:05 pm on 21 October 1989.
On 9 October 1992, early in the morning, Sukhdev Singh "Sukha" and Harjinder Singh "Jinda" were hanged until death in Pune Jail. The Independent World mentioned "While being led from their cell to the gallows set up in the Yerawada gaol yard, the two convicted killers shouted slogans for Sikh independence in the Punjab". Both of them were hanged at 4 am in Yerwada Central Jail Pune while extraordinary security was deployed at the jail and in the periphery of Pune to oppose any possible Sikh militant attack. Security was also tightened all over Northern India. . Their dead bodies were cremated on the same day at 6:20 am near Mula river.
The Independent World reported that “..their hanging sparked off protests by students and shop-keepers in the Sikh-dominated state of Punjab" and "Security forces were put on alert in New Delhi, Pune, the southern city where the two assassins were hanged, and throughout the Punjab".
Memorial service and subsequent seizure of the Golden Temple by the government
On their memorial service, hundreds of troops and police surrounded the Golden Temple. In the early morning hundreds of Sikhs were ordered to move out of the Golden Temple. Sikh leaders Simranjit Singh Mann, Prakash Singh Badal, Gurcharan Singh Tohra and 300 others were arrested in the statewide arrests. Some people were baton charged when they tried to enter this religious place. Approximately 300 Sikhs openly resisted the police clampdown and held the 30-minute memorial service inside the complex while chanting slogans hailing the assassins and in support of Sikh homeland Khalistan. Jinda and Sukha’s fathers were presented with gold medals by Golden Temple priest. Police seize of the temple was lifted 3 hours after the memorial service
In October 1999, his death anniversary was celebrated in village Gadli, district Amritsar, where chief of Akal Takhat Amritsar, Giani Puran Singh declared Jinda and Sukha as national martyrs while justifying their action of killing general Vaidya. Some Akali leaders stayed away from this function.
On 9 October 2000, representatives of all major Sikh bodies, including ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, the SHSAD, the SGPC, the Damdami Taksal, AISSF and the Dal Khalsa attended the eighth death anniversary of Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha. To honour Jinda and Sukha, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Head of Akal Takht (Supreme Sikh temporal seat), performed the 'ardas' (a Sikh religious rite). Both Sukha and Jinda were declared as "great martyrs' of the Sikh nation during this event.
On 9 October 2002, per The Tribune, on Jinda's death anniversary, "Tributes were paid to the assassins of General Vaidya – Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha" and Jinda's mother was honoured by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, chief of Akal Takhat.
In October 2005, his death anniversary was celebrated in his native village of Gadli by various Sikh organization including Dal Khalsa, Damdami Taksal, Akal Federation and Sikh Students Federation etc.
Dashmesh Durbar Sikh temple in Surrey, Canada recently organized special prayers for both Jinda and Sukha in Canada
On 9 October 2008, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee honoured kin of Jinda and Sukha in the Golden Temple complex, to mark their death anniversary. SGPC declared Jinda and Sukha 'martyrs of Sikh Nation' and added that Jinda and Sukha took revenge of Operation Blue Star.
- Saini Jagat (Utpati Ate Vikas), pp 123, Prof. Surjit Singh Nanuan, Manjota Publications, Patiala, 2008
- A life sentence
- Associated Press. "Shrine Leader Killed in Ambush", The Dallas Morning News, 11 August 1986.
- Weisman, Steven R. "A Top Indian General is Assassinated", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11 August 1986.
- Sun-Times Wires. "Sikhs kill ex-army chief, massacre revenge hinted", Chicago Sun-Times, 11 August 1986.
- Associated Press. "General cremated; Sikhs admit to killing", c/o Houston Chronicle, 11 August 1986.
- "The Vaidya Murder Case: Confirming Death Sentences", India Abroad. (New York edition). New York, N.Y.: 24 July 1992. Vol.XXII, Issue. 43; pg.20.
- New Straits Times Malaysia - Oct 10, 1992
- The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Punjab