From a mechanical engineer to a hardcore terrorist on death row - it's been a long journey for Devinderpal Singh Bhullar (48).
Hailing from Dialpura Bhai Ka village in Bathinda district, Bhullar completed Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in the mechanical stream from Guru Nanak Engineering College, Ludhiana, in 1990. He joined as an instructor in a polytechnic college at Ludhiana, but had to resign due to ill-health. Then he shifted to Chandigarh and worked as an assistant engineer in a computer firm. In the early 1990s, during the days of terrorism in Punjab, he came into contact with terrorist Amarpal Singh.
Swayed by the militant ideology, he established links with Sikh hardliners such as Dr Sohan Singh, chief of Panthic Committee (Baba Sohan Singh), Daljeet Singh Bittu, Paramjeet Singh Panjwar, Daya Singh Lahoria and Manjinder Singh.
Bhullar was also in touch with radicals such as Gurjant Singh Budh Singh Wala, Navneet Singh Kadian, Pritam Singh Sekhon and Lakhbir Singh Rode. He joined the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) and assumed fake names such as Prof Saleem, Deepak, Sunil Kumar, Anil Aggarwal and Manish.
Bhullar married Navneet Kaur of Buraj Kahan Singh Wala village in Amritsar district in September 1991. Two years later, he triggered a car bomb blast outside the Delhi Youth Congress office, a terrorist act that sealed his fate.
Villagers seek justice for family
Dialpura Bhai Ka (Bathinda): Residents of Devinderpal Singh Bhullar's native village are in a state of shock and anger after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal for commuting his death sentence to life imprisonment.
When the HT team reached Dialpura Bhai Ka village on Friday, Bhullar's house was found locked. Villagers said the house was rarely opened over the past 20 years - only when his US-based mother Upkar Kaur paid a visit - and his cousins were looking after his family land.
Bhullar's cousin Mukhtiar Singh said, "The government is free to hang him, but first those cops should be hanged who are responsible for the Bhullar family's tragedy."
Bhullar's father Balwant Singh, posted as senior audit examiner, Faridkot, and his maternal uncle Manjit Singh were allegedly picked up by a police party in December 1991. They are still "missing". Bhullar's relatives claim that they were killed by the police in a fake encounter. The handicapped Mukhtiar said doctors had to amputate his leg after he was tortured along with Balwant.
Bhullar's family was allegedly targeted as he was suspected to be involved in an attempt on the life of Sumedh Singh Saini, then senior superintendent of police, Chandigarh (now Punjab's director general of police) in August 1991.
"It is ironical that the Punjab and Haryana high court refused to hear the 'disappearance' case on the grounds that there was a delay in filing of the case. However, the inordinate delay by the President in deciding Bhullar's mercy plea was not taken into consideration by the Supreme Court while delivering the verdict on Friday," said Mukhtiar.
"What Bhullar did was in retaliation to the police action against his family," said his nephew, Ranjit Singh.