Tarn Taran was among the worst-hit districts during militancy in Punjab. The family of Balwinder Singh Sandhu fought against terrorism in the state for decades, facing at least 16 terror attacks during height of Khalistani militancy in Punjab and subsequently 28 other terror attacks but had been able to repudiate them all while fighting militants along with his brother and their wives. Inspired by Sandhu and his family, many people followed him and defended themselves from terror attacks.
Balwinder Singh Sandhu, his wife Jagadish Kaur Sandhu, his older brother Ranjit Singh Sandhu and his wife Balraj Kaur Sandhu were awarded Shaurya Chakra for their bravery by the President in 1993. His is the only family in the country that has been awarded four Shaurya Chakras for showing unique courage and valour. Documentaries have also been made on their anti-terror feats.
The citation for the Shaurya Chakra Award to the above four mentions, “Balwinder Singh Sandhu and his brother Ranjit Singh Sandhu are opposed to the activities of terrorists. They were on the hit lists of terrorists. The terrorists so far have made 16 attempts to wipe out the Sandhu’s family within in about 11 months.
The terrorists attacked them in groups of 10 to 200, but every time Sandhu brothers with the help of their brave wives Jagdish Kaur Sandhu and Balraj Kaur Sandhu have successfully failed the attempts of militants to kill them. Militants had attacked the family on January 31, 1990 for the first time.
The family had faced the deadliest attack on September 30, 1990 when around 200 terrorists surrounded their house from all sides and attacked them continuously for five hours with deadly weapons including rocket launchers. In this well-planned attack by terrorists, the approach road of the house was blocked by spreading underground mines so that no help from police could reach them.
Undaunted, Sandhu brothers and their wives fought terrorists with pistols and sten-guns provided by the government. The resistance shown by Sandhu brothers and their family members forced the terrorists to retreat. All these persons have displayed courage and bravery of a high order in facing the attack of the terrorists and failing their repeated murderous attempts.”
Unfortunately, in October 2020, Shaurya Chakra awardee Balwinder Singh Sandhu was shot dead by unknown assailants in Tarn Taran, months after the government withdrew his security cover. The motorcycle-borne men pumped four bullets into 62-year-old Sandhu when he was at his office adjoining his home in Bhikhiwind near Tarn Taran and escaped. He was rushed to a hospital where doctors declared him brought dead.
As per his wife, who stood by him to fight against terrorism, over 40 FIRs have been registered in attacks on their family. The previous one was in December 2018 when unknown persons fired at their house. Balwinder is survived by wife, two sons, Gagandeep Singh and Arshdeep Singh, and a daughter. They have expressed suspicion that Balwinder’s killing is a terror attack. “We don’t have any kind of personal enmity. This is a clear-cut attack by terrorists. I have fought against terrorism. Now, when he has been martyred, I will give a tougher fight to get the justice,” said Kaur, his wife.