Shot dead at the age of 39 near Himachal Pradesh’ Parwanoo on Saturday morning, gangster-cum-politician Jaswinder Singh ‘Rocky’ lived a life of crime and infamy.
He was booked at various police stations in at least 23 cases, including those of murder, and had been acquitted in 18. But he was eyeing a life primarily as a politician for some years, hobnobbing across parties. He had taken a step towards that life in 2012, when he lost a close assembly election to Surjit Kumar Jyani of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), from his native town Fazilka.
Born in a farming family at Chugian Kesar Singh village near the main town, Rocky did his schooling from Fazilka. His tryst with crime, that too within the family, came when he was barely 20 years aold, as he got registered a case against his brother Romi Singh for the fatal shooting of their father Mahinder Singh. Romi remained in jail but was later on acquitted. His family life remained disturbed. He was unmarried, while his mother had once asked for security due to threat from Rocky, though she later settled their disputes before the 2012 Punjab assembly polls.
His tryst with big crime started in the late ’90s and early 2000s when he went to Chandigarh to study after Class 12 but got involved in gangs instead.
The big public show of strength had come in 2009 after he was released on bail after a while in jail, when he came in a convoy of over 400 vehicles from Ferozepur to Fazilka; thereafter his political ambitions soared. He reportedly remained thick with Uttar Pradesh-based gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, whom he saw as a role model.
During the 2011 floods in Fazilka, he earned goodwill in border villages by distributing essential commodities much before the state government could come to the people’s aid. In 2012, he got 30,000-odd votes in the assembly poll and finished a close second, by around 1,600 votes, to Jyani, who is now a state cabinet minister. Cadres of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), senior partner of the BJP, were said to be supporting Rocky in that election, so much so that SAD president and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal had to announce from Jyani’s stage that anyone supporting Rocky would be thrown out of the SAD.
In 2013, he was photographed with the then Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde in a delegation with Congressmen Raj Kumar Verka and Ravneet Singh Bittu on the Parliament premises in New Delhi.
He was often resolving disputes of locals in Fazilka, and in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls he openly supported Akali nominee Sher Singh Ghubaya who won.
Recently he was seen attending the wedding of Ghubaya’s son at Jalalabad where Sukhbir Badal was present too.