New Delhi, Jan 27 : Over three and half months after the murder of Shaurya Chakra awardee Balwinder Singh Sandhu in Punjab, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over the probe from the Punjab Police as the killing was linked to a conspiracy hatched by Pakistan-based Khalistani terrorist Lakhvir Singh Rode and his ISI handlers.
An NIA spokesperson said that the anti-terror probe agency has registered a case on Tuesday into the killing of Sandhu, who was shot dead by two unidentified men in the early hours of October 16 last year at the residence-cum-school run by him in Punjab's Tarn Taran. After committing the murder, the assailants had immediately escaped on a motorcycle.
The Punjab Police had registered the case on the statement of Jagdish Kaur, wife of Sandhu.
The NIA official said: "During the initial investigation by Punjab Police, it was revealed that the killing was executed under a conspiracy hatched by Rode and his handlers in ISI." The official said that Sandhu's murder was executed through gangster-turned-terrorist Sukhmeet Pal Singh aka Sukh Bhikariwal, a resident of Punjab's Gurdaspur.
The official said that considering the gravity of the offence and its inter-state and international ramifications, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs directed the NIA to take up the investigation of the case.
According to the NIA, during the peak of terrorism in Punjab, Sandhu and his family had fearlessly fought terrorists, and the Indian government awarded him "Shaurya Chakra" in 1993 in recognition of his role.
Besides Sandhu and his wife Jagdish Kaur, his elder brother Ranjit Singh and his wife Balraj Kaur had also received the Shaurya Chakra.