Gian Singh Leel, 53, who was awarded a death sentence - that was later converted into life imprisonment for 16 years - for having assassinated former SAD president Sant Harchand Singh Longowal on August 20, 1985, now lives a quite life in his native village Leel, 17 km from Ludhiana.
It was Leel who had fired first with his revolver at Longowal who was sitting on a stage at Sherpur village gurdwara amidst a large gathering. Though his shots missed the 'target', four other persons were injured. Minutes later, Leel's accomplice Halwinder Singh fired bullets at Longowal from a point blank range that pierced through his abdomen.
Taking care of his septuagenarian sick mother Mahinder Kaur, his widow sister and her daughters is now a priority for Leel. He also likes to spend time pampering his pomeranian dog George. The man, however, never misses his daily prayers that commence at 3 am.
Leel candidly admits that his jail term has transformed him from a violent revolutionary to a compassionate yet an upfront individual. "While waiting for my death inside the jail, I realised there are some good deeds that I need to perform. My resolve strengthened when my death sentence was converted to life imprisonment," he says.
"After getting disillusioned from politicians, I have detached myelf from all political parties and groups since 2006 and took a vow to live my life on principles that I believe in. Due to the betrayal of our "so called" own people, I lost my father Gurdev Singh and brother-in-law Sarwan Singh in two separate encounters which gave me an insight into political gimmicks. I am happy to have taken that decision as I did not become a party to connivance and lies that politicians resort to," says Leel.
However, Leel still believes that the movement with which he was associated for such a long time was not against the country or any community but for the rights of Punjab and its people.
"Leel is my mother's native village and we are the descendants of Baba Kehar Singh, who was a general in Maharaja Ranjit Singh's army. Thus, being part of agitations for 'just' causes is in our blood," claims the man. In addition to being an avid reader, Leel can speak at length on Bhagat Puran Singh, and benevolence of Florence Nightingale whom he refers to as "real heroes".
Bees keep them busy
Bir Inder Singh (48), one of the conspirators in Longowal's assassination, and his brother Navtej Singh have turned bee-keepers and also dabble in real estate.
While Bir Inder has served 13 years in jail, his brother remained in prison for seven years.
Both brothers now stay with their families at Sahauli village, 12 km from Ludhiana. "We are raising our children in a healthy atmosphere. As compared to the 1980s, things are much better now," says Bir Inder Singh, a SAD member.