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Saturday, October 24, 1998

After 33 years, reward eludes ex-SP who solved Kairon assassination

Rajesh Deol  
JALANDHAR, Oct 23: Thirty-three years after the assassination of the then Punjab Chief Minister, Partap Singh Kairon, the man who was instrumental in getting the accused arrested and convicted is still waiting for the reward money of Rs 50,000, announced for unearthing the crime.

Seventy-year-old Subdal Singh, who retired as Superintendent of Police (Vigilance) in 1987, was the investigation officer who trailed the suspects which ultimately led to the arrest of all the four accused in 1965. Three of the accused -- Sucha Singh, Baldev Singh and Nahar Singh `Fauji' -- were convicted and hanged in 1969 while the fourth accused, Daya Singh, has served life sentence.

Kairon, who was going from Delhi to Chandigarh on February 6, 1965, was waylaid near Rasoi village, Rohtak district, and shot dead along with his personal assistant, an IAS officer, and the driver.

Subdal Singh, then a sub-inspector, when assigned the investigation into the assassination had little idea that he would be chasing his collegemates. Sucha Singh and Baldev Singh had studied with him at Khalsa College, Amritsar.

Hundreds of representations to the successive chief ministers and police chiefs have failed to get him what Subdal Singh claims is his ``rightful due''.

An exasperated Subdal Singh says, ``Where is the reward? The Punjab Government had announced it, why does it not keep its promise?''

In 1982, the then chief minister Darbara Singh while replying to a question in the Assembly had furnished a written reply, in which he acknowledged Subdal's contribution. ``Even then nothing happened. And the reward money has not been given yet,'' says Subdal.

Subdal, who won 175 commendations for solving various cases, says it was a personal challenge to him since the incident had shook not only Punjab but the whole country.

``Many theories were floated reasoning Kairon's murder, Ultimately, it came down to the enmity theory,'' Subdal recalls. The list of suspects led him to one Baldev Singh in Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan.After trailing him for about eight days, Subdal finally got hold of the man who to his surprise was a college senior.

``After a bout of liquor, Baldev revealed everything. He admitted he had shot Kairon and was not repenting it,'' Subdal recalls. He remembers clearly what Baldev, who was a post-graduate, told him, ``He who commits and repents is doubly coward''.

Subdal convinced Baldev to surrender and brought him to Rohtak, where the case had been registered at the Rai police station. The arrest of the other accused was a matter of time once Baldev was arrested.

Sucha, was Subdal's class fellow in Khalsa College and was a state-level wrestling champion. Baldev and Sucha were the members of the college foootball team, which Subdal led.

``Sucha had already become a proclaimed offender while Baldev was not a hardcore criminal,'' Subdal says. Both Sucha and Baldev confessed to the crime during the initial stages of trial. ``The judgment was pronounced on June 6, 1969 and three of the accused were hangedto death and the fourth was sentenced to life imprisonment.'' Subdal says.

The investigations concluded that the motive behind the assassination was Sucha's animosity towards Kairon as he believed that as the chief minister, Kairon had taken a personal interest in securing the conviction of one Ajit Singh and his father Bir Singh in a murder case.

Sitting in his Model Town house Subdal says, though he is not in need of money, if the state government has announced a reward, it must deliver. Punjab DGP PC Dogra, during his latest visit to Jalandhar, asked Subdal to submit a fresh representation.

Says Subdal, if the government believes that it was somebody else whose clue worked in solving the case then why does not it reward him. ``It cannot, because it was me who did it. That's why the reward money has still not been disbursed,'' Subdal claims.

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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