M A I N   N E W S

Rajoana hanging stayed
Union Home Ministry acts on SGPC’s mercy plea
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal after meeting President Pratibha Patil.
Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal after meeting President Pratibha Patil. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

New Delhi, March 28
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday stayed the hanging of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassin, Balwant Singh Rajoana.

The convict was supposed to be hanged on March 31 at a jail in Patiala. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal announced the decision of the MHA by showing the letter they received from the ministry to the media. Earlier, the Chief Minister called on President Pratibha Patil and sought clemency for Rajoana.

The MHA acted on a plea filed by the Shiromani Gurdawara Parbandhak Committee and has informed the Principal Secretary, Home (Punjab) about its decision. The SGPC cited Article 72 of the Constitution to seek clemency for Rajoana. The President has powers to grant pardons, to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases under this Article.

Joint Secretary (MHA), JL Chugh, in his orders passed tonight, said: “As per the procedure regarding petitions for mercy in death sentence cases, the execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana is stayed till the order of the Supreme Court in the matter of the criminal appeal no 2277/2022 and 1464/2011 or till the order of the President on the said mercy petition, whichever is later”. Rajoana’s case is unique as he has not sought clemency for his act. The special CBI court had awarded death sentence to Rajoana and Jagtar Singh Hawara in the Beant Singh case on August 1, 2007. Three others - Lakhwinder Singh, Gurmit Singh and Shamsher Singh - were sentenced to life imprisonment for hatching the conspiracy to kill Beant Singh. A Chandigarh court had issued death warrants to Patiala jail authorities earlier this month, asking them to hang Rajoana on March 31. Rajoana did not appeal against the judgment.

The death penalty of Hawara, who filed an appeal against it, was commuted to life term. Sukhbir Singh Badal told reporters that clemency for Rajoana was not a political issue. The residents of Punjab want him to be pardoned, said the Deputy CM of Punjab.

Rajoana village celebrates

As soon as news of the stay on Rajoana’s hanging reached his native village Rajoana Kalan, a wave of joy swept through the village. The villagers were seen bursting crackers and congratulating one another. Village sarpanch said, “We are very happy about the stay. We thank all those who supported the cause”.

Decision in interest of peace: Gurkirat

Chandigarh: Gurkirat Singh Kotli, Khanna MLA and grandson of the late Beant Singh, said the stay on the execution would ensure long-term peace in Punjab. “The hard-earned peace achieved after several sacrifices, including that by martyr Beant Singh, cannot be jeopardised and any step in the interest of peace and harmony will always be supported by us”, he said.

Capt lauds decision

Chandigarh: Appreciating the stand taken by the UPA Government, PPCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh said the decision will go a long way in maintaining the hard-earned peace in Punjab. Appealing to the people of the state to maintain peace at all costs, he pointed out that the Congress-led UPA Government respected the sentiments of the people of Punjab.

Khalsa March put off

Amritsar: Dal Khalsa leader Kanwar Pal Singh has stated that the Panthic outfits have postponed the Khalsa March which was scheduled to start on Thursday in view of the stay on Rajoana’s hanging. A group of Panthic outfits had given a call to start a march from all three Takhts in Punjab to Patiala on March 29. Meanwhile, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has hailed the Centre’s move to stay the execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana. — TNS






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