Surjit Singh Penta

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Surjit Singh Penta was a young Sikh, a promising athlete who became a militant. He was expected of being responsible for, or involved in, over 40 deaths. He apparently took his own life dying a Martyr's death at the edge of the Amrit sarovar, as had the Great Sikh Martyr Baba Deep Singh ji who died defending the Harmandir Sahib.

He joined the Khalistan movement, after he had been personally affected by the Delhi Anti-Sikh riots in 1984. After that he became part of the Bhindranwala Tigers Force of Khalistan.

He is said to have tracked down and personally punished some of the goons who were resposible for the deaths of innocent men, women and children after the assasination of Indira Gandhi. Whose death became nothing more than an excuse to rob, kill, rape and loot while the police turned an indifferent eye and looked the other way. The Goons were even said to have been given government info pointing out the addresses of Sikhs, their homes and businesses.


One elder Singhni, her name is not known, was caught with her husband, son and his two sons (who were about 5 to 7 years of age). While she held on to her grandchildren her husband and son were doused with fuel and burned alive before her eyes. The rioters tauntingly told her they would spare her grandsons, if she herself would cut the hair of the boys. But that great lady refused to bend to their demands. Her grandsons, too, were then thrown into the fire. The brave Singhni remained unmoved. Seeing that he could not break her will, the ringleader of the mob yelled:

"Give that poor lady a 1,000 rupees, she has just lost everything." He then started laughing.

The brave Singhni replied:

"Your turn will come soon".

After that she was cut into pieces.

It is said that the Singhni's prediction came true, for it was Surjit Singh Penta who tracked down and killed that ringleader and some of his goons.


There are two versions of Surjit Singh Penta's death.

  • The first version is that he was caught in Operation Black Thunder, then martyred later in a 'staged' police encounter.
  • The second tells us that Surjit Singh Penta was martyred during Operation Black Thunder after he and a group of Sikhs, who had been occupying the Harmandar Sahib had surrendered. He died after biting a capsule of cyanide, which he had concealed in a special ring, after he noticed that some police officers had recognized him among the group.

The second version seems to be correct, as is attested in the following excerpt from an article [1] by an eye-witness Tarun J. Tejpal, a renowned Indian journalist and Editor in Chief, of Tehelka.com[2].

"I was among several who saw him die. His name was Surjit Singh Penta, and the year was 1988. A smartly calibrated siege of the Golden Temple had just ended in the surrender of all the militants holed up inside the Harmandir Sahib, the Temple’s sanctum sanctorum. As they filed out and squatted in the courtyard of the serai on the Temple’s periphery, a sudden commotion broke out. The police spotters had recognised a major militant. But before they could lay hands on him, he had swallowed his cyanide pill, and though the police threw him into a jeep to rush him to hospital, he was dead. Penta’s story deserves telling because it illustrates the pathology of oppression. The young Sikh was a national-level athlete representing Delhi before he became a witness to the brutal Sikh massacres of 1984. By the time he committed suicide a few years later more than 40 killings were attributed to him. Before he became a terrorist Penta had been terrorised by the state — or its malign absence. That is often the sequence: the state’s excesses, followed by those of the individual. The line between law enforcement and high-handedness is always very thin. In India, dangerously, it is being smudged every day. Are Naxalites victims before they become perpetrators? Are young militants in the north-east and Kashmir brutalised before they become brutal? Is the ordinary citizen meted out insensitivity before he becomes desensitised? What does one say about a country where one turns to the police with trepidation, where no one expects the men in khaki to do the right thing?"

The above article is worth taking the time to read, again the link is [3].