Ropar, India — The widow of one of Indira Gandhi’s killers sat in a school hall Friday flanked by Sikh supporters and heavily armed police, her eyes shining with defiance despite losing races for two Punjab Assembly seats.

“T stood because of my husband. He sacrificed his life for the Panth (the Sikh religious order),”’ said Bimal Khalsa, wife of Beant Singh, the security man killed by bodyguards after he shot the late prime minister last Oct. 31.

Khalsa had hoped to capitalize on her husband’s popularity among militant Sikhs in her bids for seats in two rural Assembly constituencies. She came close to winning in both.

In the Chamkaur Sahib constituency, she lost by only 1,779 votes to the candidate of the Congress (1) party headed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Mrs. Gandhi’s son and successor.

The margin was even smaller in the Pakka Kalan constituency, where Khalsa lost by only 415 votes to the candidate of the moderate Sikh Akali Dal party, the runaway winner in this week’s polling.

“We are happy now,” said an undismayed Khalsa, who wore a traditional Sikh dagger at her side. “We have shown the leaders the masses are standing for us,” she said.

Madhu Singh, the losing Akali Dal candidate, charged Khalsa had denied him a victory in Chamkaur Sahib by splitting the Sikh vote.

Harchand Singh Longowal, the late Akali Dal leader, was assassinated by gunmen on Aug. 20, apparently because of an agreement he signed in July with Rajiv Gandhi to redress Sikh political and economic grievances.

The successful Congress (I) candidate, Bhag Singh who is also a Sikh, called his triumph “a victory” for that agreement.

“There are certain reactionary forces,” he said of Khalsa’s popularity. “But the people’s support is not there.”

Article extracted from this publication >>  October 6, 1985