Beant Singh assassin Rajoana’s death sentence commuted : The Tribune India

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Beant Singh assassin Rajoana’s death sentence commuted

NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has approved the commutation of death sentence to Balwant Singh Rajoana for his role in Beant Singh’s assassination.

Beant Singh assassin Rajoana’s death sentence commuted

Balwant Singh Rajoana. File photo



Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Chandigarh, September 29

In a politically significant move, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has approved the commutation of death sentence to Babbar Khalsa terrorist Balwant Singh Rajoana for his role in Punjab CM Beant Singh’s assassination on August 31,1995. Rajoana will now undergo life term. This is being seen as an “act of grace” ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

Sources told The Tribune that the approval was given on Saturday night. The move comes two days after the BJP in Haryana refused a poll pact with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), its long-standing ally. The death sentence of the other convict in the case, Jagtar Singh Hawara, was reduced to life imprisonment by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in October 2010.  The same court upheld Rajoana’s death sentence, who during his trial did not defend himself. Neither did he file a mercy plea with the President. Rajoana claimed he and his colleague, constable Dilawar Singh, had a pact to “lay down their lives.” Dilawar Singh was the ‘human bomb’, who blew himself up, killing Beant Singh as the latter stepped out of his office in the Punjab and Haryana Civil Secretariat, Chandigarh. As per the plot, Rajoana would have blown himself up had Dilwara failed in his attempt.

The Union Government on March 29, 2012, stayed Rajoana’s hanging, which was slated for March 31, 2012, after the SGPC filed a mercy petition.The then Punjab Government and most political parties in the state backed the move. Parkash Singh Badal, who was then CM, and his son and Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal handed over a mercy petition to the President, seeking clemency for Rajoana. The  President referred the matter to the MHA, which stayed Rajoana’s execution. The Home Ministry has also approved the release of eight Sikh detainees charged  under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act  that was in force during 1985-1995. The Punjab Government had suggested nine names.

About the assassination

  • On August 31, 1995, at 5.05 pm, three white Ambassador cars arrive at the portico of the Civil Sectt in Chandigarh, ‘human bomb’ constable Dilawar Singh, in police uniform and files in hand, begins walking towards then CM Beant Singh
  • The CM is accompanied by MLA Baldev Singh Pakakalan and his aides. As NSG commandos jostle to keep bystanders away and CM nears his car, the ‘human bomb’ presses the button at 5.12 pm
  • There is a deafening explosion; body parts are flung against pillars and walls of the porch. Besides the Chief Minister, 16 others, including three NSG commandos are killed

THE CASE FILE

August 31, 1995  Beant Singh killed

Sept 1995 Chandigarh Police find abandoned Ambassador car with Delhi number; Lakhwinder Singh held

Feb 19, 1996     Challan against 12 filed in UT Sessions Court

April 30, 1996    Charges framed against Gurmeet Singh, Nasib Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, Navjot Singh, Jagtar Singh Tara, Shamsher Singh, Jagtar S Hawara, Balwant S Rajoana & Paramjit S Bheora

THE CAR CLUE

The conspirators failed to retrieve a car used in the crime. It could have gone unnoticed but for a strange turn of events

After the blast, two cops, who went to smoke, entered an unlocked Ambassador car parked a little distance from the blast site

They noticed the interiors were grey while the exterior was white. Curious, they opened the glove box, and found bits of evidence

Later, it was found the car was used by the plotters to reach the site, it was to be driven away after the blast

The plotters got the steel grey vehicle painted “Franko White” to match the colour of government cars for easy access to the sectt, but the colour inside remained the same

On Aug 26, 1995, auto painter Surinder Sharma was approached by co-conspirator Lakhwinder Singh and three others who came in an Ambassador car (DBA-9598)

They asked for the car to be painted white and delivered by August 29, but drove it out on August 30. At the time, the area around the glove compartment was grey; Surinder saw the photo of the car in a paper on September 2; he decided to narrate the story to the police

Key players & motivation

  • In June 1995, Babbar Khalsa International  member Jagtar Singh Hawara reached Delhi
  • He motivated Punjab Police constable Dilawar Singh to assassinate the Chief Minister
  • Rajoana was the alternative ‘human bomb’. Hawara persuaded PO Jagtar Singh Tara to purchase an Ambassador car and send Lakhwinder Singh and Shamsher Singh to a car painter

Commuting the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana to life term is a black day in the history of Punjab. With this act, Narendra Modi-led BJP government has set the ball rolling for revival of terrorism in the state. — Ravneet Bittu, Congress MP

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