FORMER PUNJAB CHIEF MINISTER SURJIT SINGH BARNALA PASSES AWAY
Former Punjab Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala, who took over reins of the state in the difficult period when militancy was at its peak in the mid-80s, died here on Saturday at the age of 91.
Mr. Barnala, who served as Chief Minister from 1985 to 1987, was admitted to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here on Thursday. He was admitted to the Cardiac Care Unit of PGI and was shifted this morning to respiratory ICU where he breathed his last.
Barnala authored Story of an Escape which was translated from English to Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu. His second book My Other Two Daughters was also transliterated in braille by Kunwar Singh Negi.
Barnala had faced tragedies on the personal front. His youngest son Neelinder died in a road accident in 1996 and his daughter Amrit Kaur died of cancer in 2012.
He is survived by his wife Surjit Kaur and two sons Jasjit and Gaganjit.
Born on October 21, 1925 in Ateli village in Gurgaon district of joint Punjab, Mr. Barnala did his schooling from Nabha and did his graduation in Ll.B from Lucknow.
He was also involved in the Quit India Movement of 1942 after which he practiced law for some years.
Mr. Barnala entered politics in 1952 and unsuccessfully contested from Dhanaula assembly constituency losing by just three votes.
He was a five-time member of Punjab Assembly — 1967, 1969, 1972, 1980 and 1985 — and twice a member of the Lok Sabha in 1977 and 1998.
He fought the Lok Sabha elections for the first time in 1977 and served as Union Agriculture, Irrigation, Water Resources, Forests minister in the Morarji Desai-led Janta Party government from 1977 to 1980.