CHANDIGARH, Punjab—Every time, Kamaldeep Kaur looks into her brother’s eyes, she knows such occasions will be few and far between. Balwant Singh Rajoana is on the death row, convicted in the Beant Sinh execution case. But such is his worldview that perhaps Kamaldeep may long have to live with those eyes. Long after Balwant Singh hangs to the utter shame of the Indian justice system.
Rajoana’s Eyes. Eyes that have seen untold atrocities against the Sikhs, eyes that have seen the machinations of hegemonic brahaminical forces trying to annihilate as well as assimilate the Sikhs, eyes that have rarely dropped a tear, eyes that have always gleamed with pride in the service of the Guru.
Rajoana’s eyes. Eyes that will now shame even death. In the presence of his sister, brother-in-law, nephew and the Deputy Superintendent of Model Jail, Chandigarh, (where he is lodged), Balwant Singh Rajoana has signed his Will, donating his eyes to the blind Hazuri Ragi Singh of Darbar Sahib Harmandar Sahib, Bhai Lakhwinder Singh, on 17 June 2008.
It was not a spur of the moment decision. Rajoana, in fact, first wrote to the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib on June 5, explaining his wish. This was followed by calls from the personal attendant of the Jathedar to the Deputy Superintendent of Jail, and thus he was granted permission by the jail authorities.
The Will of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana
Oh Kabir, there is nothing of mine in this life
Whatever is there, is yours
If I surrender what is yours, unto Thee
What do I lose or pay?
Bhagat Kabir, Guru Granth Sahib
Accepting the Omnipresence of Akal Purakh (God Almighty), I hereby swear on oath that after my death, all the parts of my body, which can benefit any person, are pledged to the highest temporal authority of the Sikhs, Sri Akal Takht Sahib.
It is my earnest wish that after my death, my eyes may kindly be given to Hazuri Ragi of Sri Darbar Sahib Harmandar Sahib, Bhai Lakhwinder Singh, who is blind, so that through him, my eyes continue to revere holy Darbar Sahib. For medical or other reasons, in case this is not possible, then my eyes may be given to any other needy person.
In addition to this any other part of my body (heart, kidney or any other) which can be beneficial to any other person, may be given to that person.
I am writing this Will without any coercion or compulsion and out of my own convictions and commitment and with the approval of the members of my family.
I am happily making this Will in the presence of my sister Kamaldeep Kaur, my brother in law Baljit Singh, my nephew Ajaydeep Singh, my neice Harnoor Kaur, Superintendent of the Model Jail Chandigarh, Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa ji, Medical officer, B. K. Salwan and other jail authorities.
Balwant Singh Rajoana
Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa
Deputy Superintendent of Jails
17 June 2008
In his hand-written letter, sent to the Jathedar through the prison authorities, Balwant Singh Rajoana said: “As you are aware, I have been sentenced to death by an Indian court in the Beant Singh assassination case. I have decided not to appeal against this order and not to submit before this system.”
He said while he was waiting for his final call from the government of India, he desired that “after my death, the vital organs of my body (eyes, kidneys, heart and any other part that may be useful to any other person) may be offered at Sri Akal Takht Sahib to be given to those who may need them.” The idea was that the organs could be donated to anyone as per the wishes of the Sikh community. Rajoana had in fact made it clear right at the time of his conviction that his body shall be donated.
Explaining himself, he said that while watching the Kirtan programme on television, the sight of a blind Hazuri Ragi inspired him to offer his eyes, so that, “even after my death, (through the Ragi Singh) my eyes continue to worship at holy Darbar Sahib.”
Speaking to the World Sikh News, Kamaldeep Kaur, the sister of Balwant Singh, informed that the will was signed in her presence. Her husband Baljit Singh, her son Ajaideep Singh and Mr. Randhawa, the jail deputy superintendent were also witness to the document.
In his communiqué to the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh, he has said that “every single part of my body” that could be of any use to anyone in the service of the Panth and humanity could be used accordingly.
Dying is no act of bravado, to be prepared to die for one’s convictions is bravado par excellence. No university could have educated Kamaldeep Kaur about this great truth, but Rajoana’s life has.
“Many people think that my brother wants to die. No. Like all living things he also wants to live, but he does not want to cringe, he does not want to dither from his Ardas, he does not want to love life at the cost of his courage and the cause of the Khalsa Panth.”
One only wonders how many sisters who tie rakhi around their brother’s wrist across India can actually understand what Kamaldeep must be passing through. Or perhaps every single one of them will understand, if only the Sikh community ensures that the story of Rajoana’s eyes be spread and propagated all across the globe.
Rajoana’s sister about his decision
“Having lost my brother Harpinder Singh Goldy to the Sikh struggle, I do not want to lose another one, but at the same time I bow before his decision not to appeal his sentence and not to submit to the Indian system, which violates human rights of Sikhs. What he is saying and doing is in the true traditions of the Sikhs…My aged parents wanted a support system for themselves but they are not selfish. They are proud of their son and his commitment.”
“By this act, I think my brother will bring more respect to the Sikh community.” There is no end to beautiful, heart-wrenching poetry about eyes, the beauty of eyes, the power of eyes, eyes full of tears, eyes that laugh, eyes that move hearts. But the saga of Rajoana’s Eyes will remain perhaps unmatched, for which poet has ever written about the power of eyes of a man condemned to death? Rajoana does not want to shut his eyes to his Guru, to his brave Sikh nation, to the machinations of its enemies, to the great ideal of Sarbat Da Bhala.
Beant Singh’s eyes were always covered with trademark black-tinted glasses, even during broad daylight. Those were eyes that could not handle shame, for more were dying under Beant Singh’s jackboots than a human heart could bear to see. Now, Rajoana’s Eyes will ensure that the line between a life spent in Guru’s sewa and a death courted for one’s principles shall stand merged.
Even the most ungrateful would hold him in awe and respect.
Rajoana’s seven-year-old nephew, Ajaydeep Singh, was told about the reasons for which Rajoana was in prison, the contents of his will of June 17 and the possibility of him climbing the scaffolding ladder with a noose around his neck. “Tell Mamaji, I will never forget him. I will remember him for all my life.” [Young son] of the Sikh Nation, you will not be alone. Rajoana’s Eyes will see that the Sikh Nation will never forget him. And the story of Rajoana’s Eyes will live on long after those eyes stop shining.