The Famous Family

Ravinder Singh Binder won the sarpanch elections in Simbal Camp, a village were migrants from the other side were settled after partition. The village has a history of supporting the Khalistan cause and indulging in criminal activities. His elder brother Ranjeet Singh is the among India’s most wanted. Sonika Raina reports.

Ravinder Singh Binder has been lying on his bed since March 17 after he met with an accident. His elder brother is the alleged head of Khalistan Zindabad Force and who, the authorities believe, is in Pakistan and the Indian government has demanded his extradition from Pakistan. But these things did not hamper Ravinder Singh Binder from winning the panchayat polls from his native Simbal Camp.

Binder’s brother Ranjeet Singh Neta was allegedly a top ranking Khalistan terrorist, who took up arms after the army raided Golden temple – the most revered Sikh shrine in India – at Amritsar in north Indian state of Punjab. His wife Charanjit Kour, a native of Simbal village in Jammu is also allegedly living in Pakistan. Charanjit’s sister Ravinder Kaur alias Tutu, was arrested in connection with the Pathankot blasts in 1998. The authorities claimed that she had “agreed to be a human bomb” in a plot to eliminate top political leaders of the state.

Police have registered over half a dozen FIRs against Neeta after bomb blasts on trains and buses plying between Jammu and Pathankot between 1988 and 1999. Punjab Police have raided their house many times.

Such a family background have made Binders a household name in Simbal village. Ravinder Singh Binder met with an accident while on way to Ludhiana which left half his body paralysed. He was shifted to Amritsar for treatment where doctor advised him complete bed rest for three months.

The last date to file the nomination papers for the Panchayat elections in Simbal was March 25 and Binder was undergoing treatment in Amritsar. Hower, he is so popular in the area that his supporters went to Amritsar to get his signatures on the nomination papers. As the right side of his body was paralysed Binder could only sign the papers with his left hand with some assistance.

He was discharged from hospital on March 31, and reached Jammu where he was received by around 2000 people of the Simbal village.

Binder has been a staunch supporter of Indian National Congress party and is not new to politics. However, a bedridden Binder was unable to do any campaigning as the doctor had advised him complete bed rest. Even on the day of voting he was taken to the polling station in a jeep where on a special permission he voted outside the polling station in his jeep only.

 Though Binder’s brother, Ranjit Singh Neta, one of the India’s 20 most wanted persons has been allegedly active with the Khalistan Zindabad force, Binder got more support from the Hindu Community of the village as he got around 85 per cent of the Hindu community that made him the sarpanch of Simbal Lower panchayat.

“I agree that there was a time when my village was very infamous for crime and terrorism but things never remain same. People now understand that gun is not the solution of any problem. Things have changed a lot in Simbal Camp and our youth is more inclined towards education and jobs,” Binder said.
Binder’s mother is a retired headmaster and all his three children study in a convent school at Jammu. Binder himself has passed 12th standard and had joined Maulana Azad Memorial College but had to discontinue studies for family reasons.

Binder is connected with the people at the grass root level and has been associated with the Congress party since long. He believes that education is the only thing that can help in the progress of a nation.

Simbal Camp is one of the camps where the people who migrated from Pakistan after the partition in 1947 were settled. The condition of the people of Simbal camp was is not very good. Without education most of the men from among the migrants took transportation as their occupation and some of them “indulged in criminal activities”.

Talking to Kashmir Life Binder said, “We all are refugees from Pakistan living here, government did very little to help us so some people got involved in anti-social activities and the area became more notorious after the attack on Golden temple in 1984 as the people of our village strongly protested against that. But the reality is something different.

“People have a very wrong image of our village. If few people are involved in some anti-national activities it does not mean that all the villagers are criminals. Around 400 to 500 students from our village are studying in foreign countries. Our neighbours are working in Indian army and many other good fields,” he added.

Born in 1971, Ravinder Singh has seen different situations in the Simbal Camp, starting from the rise of Khalistan Zindabad Force, then the protest of 1984 against the army’s attack on Golden temple to flush out holed up terrorists to the present comparatively peaceful atmosphere which saw him getting elected as the Sarpanch (village head). The first thing he wants to do is to put up street lights in the village which will light up the village streets for first time since it came into being in 1947.

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