Amritsar, Mar 23: The supreme seat of Sikhdom, Akal Takht today called upon the Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president to request the President to grant pardon to Balwant Singh Rajoana, who is scheduled to be hanged to death for the murder for former chief minister Beant Singh.
The Akal Takht in its hukmnama (directive), asked the Sikhs to close down their establishments for a day on March 28 and perform 'ardaas' (prayer) in their homes for 'zinda shaheed' (living martyr) Balwant Singh.
Balwant Singh Rajoana is scheduled to be hanged to death on March 31. He has been convicted for the assassination of former chief minister Beant Singh.
Beant Singh's body was blown to pieces, in a car bomb blast on August 31, 1995, outside the Punjab civil secretariat. The terror was orchestrated by Rajoana among others.
Rajoana, however, wants no change in the date of his execution. In fact, the Khalistan ideologue has been seeking an early execution after he decided not to appeal against his death sentence.
Rajoana has donated his eyes and other organs in a letter to the Akal Takht and even got himself baptized within the jail premises last year. The ceremony was conducted by Sikh priests in Patiala jail.
Meanwhile, late Beant Singh's grandsons Ravneet Singh Bittu, a Congress Lok Sabha MP from Punjab and Gurkirat Singh, Congress MLA, as well as his uncle Tej Prakash, a former Punjab minister, are deliberating an appeal to the competent authorities seeking life for Balwant Singh who is lodged in the Patiala jail.
Talks with the family are underway, even though it is still unclear if the appeal will have any effect on Rajoana's hanging on March 31.
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has been in a dialogue with Beant Singh's kin to save Rajoana from the gallows.
Gurukirat Singh, MLA, said: “We received a call from DSGMC chief Paramjit Singh Sarna who discussed the issue with us. We are deliberating the issue."
The DSGMC has cited the “surging Sikh sentiments” in support of life for Rajoana to persuade the slain chief minister's kin to come out with an appeal.
The court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Shalini Nagpal this week resent his execution warrants to Patiala Central Jail , stating that Balwant be hanged on March 31 itself at 9 am as the order to execute his hanging has been upheld by the High Court.
Jail authorities had returned the earlier death warrant of the Chandigarh court pleading its inability to hang him, since the case, in which the Sikh hardliner has been awarded death sentence, belongs to Chandigarh.
In a situation similar to that of the government in Leo Tolstoy's short story “Too Dear”, where the prisoner cannot be executed due to the lack of an executioner, the hanging may be the last thing the newly formed Badal government would want in a Punjab jail. The state lacks a hangman and neither Haryana nor Himachal Pradesh have one.
The last hanging in Punjab took place on June 16, 1989, when two brothers from Sangrur, Gurcharan Singh and Pritam Singh, were hanged in the Central Jail, Patiala. The hanging was performed by hangman Kaloo, who was specially summoned from the Tihar Jail in Delhi for the task.
But the execution of the death sentence has now taken a curious turn. Punjab has sought a legal opinion from the State Home Department on whether or not Balwant Singh can be hanged in Punjab jail where he‘s currently lodged.