1995 Ludhiana Clock Tower Bomb Blast: Court acquits Babbar Khalsa militant Hawara

Divya Goyal
1995 Ludhiana Clock Tower Bomb Blast: Court acquits Babbar Khalsa militant Hawara

Jagtar Singh Hawara is currently serving life term for assassinating former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh

A Ludhiana court Monday acquitted Jagtar Singh Hawara, a militant with links to banned Babbar Khalsa International, of all charges in the December 6, 1995 Clock Tower bomb blast case. The court of additional sessions judge Atul Kasana acquitted Hawara due to lack of evidence, his lawyer said.

At least 24 people were injured in the blast that rocked Lottery Market near Ghanta Ghar Chowk (Clock Tower) market of Ludhiana, nearly 24 years years ago when the Khalistan movement was at its peak in Punjab.

Of the five accused booked in the case, two, including Hawara, now stand acquitted, two were declared proclaimed offenders and one was discharged by the court. Hawara is currently serving life term for assassinating former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh. He is lodged at Tihar Jail in Delhi.

The proceedings were held through video conferencing. A total of 23 witnesses were examined in the case during the trial.

“Observing that no evidence has been found against him, the court acquitted Hawara,” said his counsel Jaspal Singh Manjhpur. “Charges were framed against Hawara on May 12, 2017 in this case, but the prosecution failed to produce any solid evidence. Nothing incriminatory came up against him and there was no recovery,” said Manjhpur.

FIR in the bomb blast was registered the same day at Kotwali (division number 1 police station) under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees or more), 34 of IPC and sections 3,4 and 5 of the Explosives Act, on the statement of Vinpod Kumar, one of the injured persons.

Ludhiana police added Hawara’s name in the FIR on December 11, 1995 and arrested him days later on December 23. The chargesheet was filed in the court on August 5, 1996 against five accused - Hawara, Bikramjit Singh, Paramjit Singh Bheora, Baljinder Singh and Pritam Singh. Bikramjit was acquitted on February 25, 2003. Subsequently, Baljinder and Pritam were declared proclaimed offenders by the court after police failed to arrest them. Paramjit was discharged from the case on September 30, 2016.

Chargesheet filed by the Ludhiana police in the bomb blast case said: “On December 6, 1995, sub-inspector Gurinderjit Singh...received a wireless message from police station Kotwali that there was a bomb explosion at lottery market, Ghanta Ghar Chowk and many persons have been injured. Gurinderjit Singh along with police party reached at the spot where sub-inspector Joginder Singh told him that the injured have been admitted at Christian Medical College & Hospital, Ludhiana (CMCH). Thereafter Gurinderjit Singh went to the hospital and recorded the statement of injured Vinod Kumar who disclosed that he has a lottery counter...at Ghanta Ghar Chowk. At about 2:15 PM, he was sitting at his counter and was selling the lottery tickets...suddenly there was a blast near his counter and smoke engulfed the whole place. Due to sudden blast the glass of his counter and other counters shattered. His both legs were injured. After some time, he came to know that many other persons got injured in the blast...”

Earlier, on November 22 this year, the court of additional session judge Arunvir Vashishtha in Ludhiana acquitted Hawara in an arms and explosives recovery case of 1995. He was booked for alleged recovery of 5 kg RDX explosive, one AK-56 rifle with magazine, 60 cartridges of AK-56, a remote control and a wireless set from Kundanpuri area of Ludhiana.