Chandigarh, December 3 – Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal today said the statement of Home minister Amit Shah that Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana’s death sentence had not been commuted had caused pain and anguish to the Sikh community which was under the impression that the death sentence had been commuted to life on the eve of the 550 Parkash Purb celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji.
In a statement here, the SAD President said “we all feel aggrieved today. We thought we had moved ahead when news statements appeared last month disclosing the death sentence of Bhai Rajoana had been commuted. However today’s assertion has shocked everyone. There is a feeling of hurt that justice has not been done to the Sikh community and the spirit of the clemency which was espoused on the occasion of the 550th Parkash Purb has not been carried through”.
Mr Badal said the SAD stood for adopting a humanitarian approach in the case and had conveyed the same to the Union government through various representations. “We feel this is a deserving case for clemency as Bhai Rajoana has spent more than 23 years in prison without parole. There is also the issue of the inflamed sentiments due to repression let loose by the erstwhile Congress government of Beant Singh during whose period thousands of innocent Sikh youth were killed as part of a State sponsored terror. Simultaneously the SAD is against the death penalty as a matter of principle and has also represented to the Union government as well as the President on this issue”.
Stating that the SAD would continue its fight to ensure reprieve to Bhai Rajoana, the SAD President said a high level delegation would meet the Union minister soon and apprise him about the sentiments of the Sikh community and urge that Bhai Rajoana’s death sentence be commuted. He said this was also the sentiment of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha which had passed a unanimous resolution in this regard which had also been supported by Beant Singh’s grandson Gurkirat Singh Kotli.
The SAD President said it appeared that chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh had played a double game on this issue which had also influenced the decision of the Union government. He said the Punjab government did not include the name of Bhai Rajoana in the list of names of Sikh detenues who had been incarcerated in jail even after the completion of their sentences. He said the chief minister should tell why he did not recommend Bhai Rajoana’s name for clemency.
Mr Badal said the anti-Sikh credentials of the Congress government were also proved from the fact that it had moved with alacrity to recommend pardon be granted to four killer cops who had abducted and killed an innocent Sikh youth in 1993 to secure out of turn promotions. He said this was done despite the fact that there were no mitigating circumstances to extend this benevolence to the killer cops. He said this largesse was extended to the cops despite the fact that the victim family had fought an 18 year old battle to get them convicted and that they had been in jail for barely two years before they were pardoned.
Stating that the SAD would bring all these facts before the Home minister and also disclose the perfidious role of the Congress government in denying reprieve to Bhai Rajoana, the SAD President said the party was hopeful to get the death sentence commuted in keeping with the sentiments of the Sikh community which wanted a closure to the festering wounds of the past. “I am confident the NDA government under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi will apply a healing touch and commute the sentence of Bhai Rajoana as a humanitarian gesture”, he added.