Former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s grandson Harkirat Singh Kotli (40) was killed on Sunday morning at his Sector 5 house in Chandigarh by a bullet from his 0.30-mm revolver. His history of depression and prima-facie evidence suggest it to be a case of suicide, though the family claims the firearm went off while cleaning.
Harkirat was getting his treatment for depression from Chadigarh’s Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), and police haven’t found any suicide note on his body. Harkirat’s wife and his gunman, Gurdev Singh, took him to the PGI, where he died at about 2pm. Police say he shot himself in the forehead around 10.45am in his room. “At 10.30am, he came from somewhere feeling low, told a servant to bring him juice, and asked his wife to prepare his bathwater. When she stepped into the bathroom to open the tap, she heard a gunshot behind her and got back to find her husband in a pool of blood. Since he was fighting depression and mood swings, the family never used to leave him unattended,” said a family source.
A PGI official said Harkirat had bullet injury in the middle of the forehead. “How he received it is not clear yet and we are trying to reach his parents,” Sector 3 station house officer (SHO) Neeraj Sarna told PTI here. Deputy superintendent of police (central) Satish Kumar confirmed that investigators were yet to record the family’s statement and that the body was in the PGI’s mortuary for autopsy on Monday.
The younger brother of Khanna legislator Gurkirat Singh and a cousin of Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, Harkirat belonged to a political family. He was sarpanch of his native village, Kotli, and had entered politics from the grassroots, just like his grandfather, who was assassinated in 1995. His father, Tej Parkash Singh, has been a former Punjab transport minister.
The news of his death brought people from the Congress and other parties to his house. Former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Aam Aadmi Party’s Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur were among the visitors.
Source of sadness
Preliminary investigation suggests that Harkirat had become depressive since coming out of coma after a major road accident in SAS Nagar. He received treatment at first Max hospital in SAS Nagar and then the PGI. His cousin Ravneet Singh Bittu said the assassination of his grandfather had also shaken him, “as he was very close to him”. “He was dejected for the past 20-odd days,” said the Ludhiana MP. Police said being childless might also have made Harkirat depressed.
Tragedies in the family
1986: Swaranjit Singh ‘Noni’, son of Beant Singh and father of Ludhiana MP Ravneet Bittu, died in his early 40s after a long spell of illness
August 31, 1995: Beant Singh was assassinated as chief minister by a human bomber of the Babbar Khalsa militant outfit at the secretariat complex in Chandigarh, in an attack that took 17 other lives
May 29, 2016: Harkirat Singh Kotli, Beant Singh’s grandson, being treated for depression since coming out of coma after road accident in SAS Nagar in 2015, found shot from own revolver.
With agency inputs