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The Punjab and Haryana High Court Tuesday commuted to a life term the death sentence awarded to notorious Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara.

Hawara was a mastermind of the assassination of then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh at the high-security state secretariat complex here Aug 31, 1995.

The high court, however, upheld the death sentence to terrorist Balwant Singh, who had not opposed the gallows awarded to him after a 11-year-old trial in a special trial court here July 2007.

The high court also upheld the life sentence of three others who were convicted for the conspiracy behind Beant Singh’s assassination. They are Shamsher Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Lakhwinder Singh.

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court here had July 2007 sentenced the two BKI terrorists – Jagtar Singh Hawara and Balwant Singh – to death in the assassination case.

While Hawara was the mastermind of the assassination, Balwant Singh was the second human bomb to be used in case the first failed to kill Beant Singh. Balwant Singh, during the entire trial, had admitted that he was alone responsible for the killing of Beant Singh.

A sixth person convicted in the same case under the Explosives Act, Naseeb Singh, was awarded 10 years imprisonment by the court. However, he had already completed 12 years behind bars by then.

All six were last week convicted by the special CBI court in the conspiracy of assassinating Beant Singh.

The former chief minister (1992-95), who was largely credited with wiping out terrorism from Punjab by dealing with scourge with an iron hand along with supercop K.P.S. Gill.

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