Friday, November 16, 2018
facebook

google plus
Sunday Special » Perspective

Posted at: Jun 21, 2015, 12:36 AM; last updated: Jun 20, 2015, 10:42 PM (IST)

Curious case of serial killer Baldev

CRIME
105 murders is the charge against him, but Jagraon’s Baldev Singh, who gave himself up to ‘atone’ after a decade of living a reformed life, owns up to only eight. An Armyman’s son who became a sewadar at a gurdwara before going on a murder spree, Baldev has one answer for why he did it: ‘Time was bad’
Curious case of serial killer Baldev
Baldev Singh (inset) being taken to a Ludhiana jail. He was living a quiet life, undetected by the police, before he decided to give himself up.

Baldev Singh is an unlikely murderer. With his frail frame, medium height, delicate features and shaky hands that he tries to control unsuccessfully, he looks almost vulnerable. Is he the dreaded murderer who, a decade-and-a-half ago, had hoodwinked the police repeatedly and managed to stay out of jail?

Who is the real Baldev — the notorious murderer who strangulated his victims or a caring foster-son who earned his livelihood by working as a cycle mechanic? The disconnect raises a host of questions. 

According to the police, on April 27, 2000, Baldev Singh, along with his accomplices, rented a room near Guru Ka Taj Gurdwara in Agra. The same night, they killed the house owner and his wife and fled with cash and gold ornaments. 

The next day, these men hired a taxi from the Mathura bus stand. On the way, they killed the taxi driver and fled in the vehicle. The same day, they hired another taxi, about 30 km from Amria, also in Uttar Pradesh, killed the driver and again took off in the vehicle.

On May 26, 2000, Baldev and Baljinder gagged to death an employee of a paint store in the Civil Lines area in Amritsar and fled on his scooter.

A month later, on June 29, he killed an elderly landlady in Kot Mangal Singh area and decamped with her gold ornaments. He lived in her house as a tenant.

After a fortnight, on July 13, Baldev and Baljinder killed Davinder Kaur and her 17-year-old son Perminder Singh, both relatives of Baldev. The two decamped with cash and ornaments.

Baldev has no answer to ‘why’ he committed the multiple murders. When The Tribune team asked him about the motive for murders he admitted to have committed, he said: “Time was bad (time maada see).” He has no strong emotions. Even when he speaks about the murders, his voice betrays no emotion. Why did he commit the murders? He is silent. Was it for money? How much money did he get after murdering the first taxi driver? “About Rs 300-400,” he says. Did he not think about the ramifications of his actions? “I just did it. I did not apply my mind to anything at that time. My partner (accomplice) Baljinder Singh did the ‘thinking’ and I just did it.” Baldev’s constant refrain is: “Time maada see.”

 He admits to eight  murders and refutes the charge of having committed 105. “Baljinder may have committed more murders,” he says, in a voice that is flat and monotonous. 

Baldev says: “I don’t know what happened to me. I committed one murder after another just to eliminate the evidence of robberies. After spending a month in Mumbai, I decided to leave Baljinder and came to Delhi. While in Delhi I learnt, through a newspaper, that Baljinder had been arrested. Together we committed eight murders, but he (Baljinder) committed several murders.” 

Difficult childhood?

It’s hard to believe that Baldev committed murders, says his younger brother Hardeep Singh. Is he alluding to a case of mistaken identity? “No, my brother must have committed some crime. The police would not have come searching for him (in 2000) without any reason. But there’s something not quite right with the report that claims that Baldev committed 105 murders. Now, this is just inconceivable.” 

Hardeep bears a striking resemblance to his brother. In 2000, the police, while looking for Baldev, took him for identification.  

Baldev’s childhood in the sleepy town of Jagraon was seemingly no different from that of an average child in rural Punjab. A neighbour says Baldev was an obedient boy. His father, an Armyman, expected a high degree of discipline from his sons. As a patriarch, his father was not averse to hitting his wife in case she disobeyed him. Baldev could not brook his father beating up his mother. He would often object to it. When he was around 21, he physically stopped his father from slapping his mother.

At regular intervals, Baldev would keep insisting that his father set up a shop for him. His father was not sure whether Baldev would be able to manage the funds judiciously. Finally, a workable arrangement was made: Baldev was given the financial help to start his “own work” at a shop that was already operating in the area.

The change

Suddenly, one day Baldev left home. He came back as a baptised Sikh. He told his family that he was staying at Manikaran Sahib Gurdwara (near Manali). It was there that he met Baljinder and Langra, both sewadars. Later, the trio allegedly went on to commit a series of murders. 

Back home from Manikaran, Baldev even insisted that his brothers get baptised. A family friend reveals that Baldev had learnt the recital of bani. People from far and wide would come to listen to his recital — it was so captivating. Baldev stayed in Manikaran for five years. 

Meanwhile, family relations continued to remain tenuous. Baldev was keen on his marriage. His family was not. They were uncertain whether he would be able to shoulder the responsibility of marriage. During his interaction with his father, he would repeatedly bring up the subject of marriage. Then again he left home. The exact sequence of events gets hazy here. Baldev’s parents are dead. A family friend and his younger brother do most of the talking on behalf of the family. 

It’s learnt that Baldev’s next destination was Raikot in Ludhiana. He did not stay there for long. Soon, the family came to know that he had left for Amritsar. Unconfirmed reports said either unrequited love or a charge of sexual harassment had made him leave Raikot. In Amritsar, Baldev allegedly murdered a fellow sewadar. Baldev’s brother is not sure whether the victim was an employee of a paint store in the Civil Lines area in Amritsar. He says the sewadar’s mother identified Baldev as the culprit. Baldev had stayed at the victim’s place.  

Mental affliction?

Baldev may be suffering from some mental affliction. Why would a sane person do all this? This is his brother’s argument. Yet, in the very next breath, he says Baldev did not show any symptoms of  mental illness in his childhood and youth. Now, he’s suffering from tremors in hands. “My mother and maternal grandmother suffered from tremors. In local parlance, we call it jhulay vali bimaari. It’s hereditary. My mother inherited it from her mother. And among us brothers, Baldev is now suffering from it.” Only a medical expert can say with surety about Baldev’s mental condition, he adds.  

Rajwant Singh, the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case, claims that Baldev Singh is “absolutely fine”. He is not suffering from any ailment. He has been undergoing a routine check-up at the Civil Hospital, once a day. However, the IO says that Baldev has not been examined by a psychiatrist.

Criminal to cycle mechanic

Records show that from 2002 onwards, Baldev was leading a “reformed” life, with one exception of an opium peddling case against him. He was arrested, and the opium turned out to be adulterated.

After Jatinder Kumar’s family “adopted” him in 2002, he very swiftly embraced the ordinariness of a cycle mechanic’s life. Like most events in his life, the “reformation” part too bears a mark of suddenness to it.

Jatinder Kumar says his handicapped brother Inderjeet had gone missing in 2002. He, along with his mother, went to Delhi in search of his brother. Jatinder could not find his brother, though he spotted Baldev Singh lying on the side of a road. It appeared that Baldev had been without food for several days. Jatinder and his mother took Baldev to their home in Ludhiana and nursed him back to health. 

Within a short span of time, Baldev became an integral part of Jatinder’s family and was rechristened as Inderjeet. Jatinder’s mother, who passed away recently, was deeply attached to him. Baldev started looking after the children and helping Jatinder in business.

Baldev became a doting brother to Jatinder’s sister. Even in police custody, Baldev has been very protective towards her. “Don’t flash her name in the paper. She is my sister. Already, she is facing embarrassment because of me,” he says.  And this is one of those rare moments when he displays visible signs of emotion.  

Suddenness, once again

Once again, “suddenness” surfaced in his life when out of the blue he had a strong desire to “atone” for his crimes by surrendering himself to the police. 

He started the “atonement" process by visiting his house in Jagraon — the house he had left years ago. The reception he got there was a mix of shock, surprise and disbelief.  He even went to the police station and told the cops that he was the man they had been looking for all these years. The police took him to be a nutcase and dismissed his pleas. 

In the meantime, Jatinder had lodged a missing complaint in Ludhiana’s Division Number 6 police station. During the search, the cops learnt about Baldev’s criminal past and arrested him. Life had come a full circle. 

He says he has no idea what the future has in store for him. But he would like to serve in “guru ghar” once again.

COMMENTS

All readers are invited to post comments responsibly. Any messages with foul language or inciting hatred will be deleted. Comments with all capital letters will also be deleted. Readers are encouraged to flag the comments they feel are inappropriate.
The views expressed in the Comments section are of the individuals writing the post. The Tribune does not endorse or support the views in these posts in any manner.
Share On