Chandigarh, Mar 26: SGPC, the apex religious body of Sikhs, today sent a mercy petition to the President seeking clemency for death row convict Balwant Singh Rajoana even as Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said he would soon meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard.
In a related development, the Superintendent of Patiala Jail moved a petition in a court seeking deferment of Babbar Khalsa militant's hanging as the CBI contended he had no locus standi to challenge the warrant of execution.
Making a statement in the Legislative Assembly, Badal termed the issue as sensitive and historic and appealed to the people to maintain peace, communal harmony and the spirit of brotherhood in the state.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee had sent a mercy petition to the President seeking commutation of the death sentence awarded to Rajoana for his involvement in the assassination of former Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995.
The petition had been sent in line with the decision taken by the core committee of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal here late last night, SGPC sources said.
The petition had sought conversion of Rajoana's death penalty to life imprisonment as was done in the case of another convict Jagat Singh Hawara.
In the House, the Chief Minister said he would soon meet the President and the Prime Minister to seek clemency for Rajoana who is scheduled to be hanged on March 31 in the Patiala Central Jail.
“All legal options will be explored by my government in this regard. Our steps will ensure peaceful atmosphere in the state,” he said.
His Deputy and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said “hanging is not going to take place.”
“Our duty is to maintain law and order at any cost,” Sukhbir, who also holds the Home portfolio, told reporters outside the Assembly.
Sukhbir said the SAD would soon seek an appointment with the President to seek clemency for Rajoana “to maintain the hard-earned peace in the state”.
Asked if the state government was trying to please the hardliners by seeking clemency for Rajoana who himself has not filed a mercy petition, the Deputy Chief Minister evaded a direct reply.
“Our policy is clear on law and order. It will not be allowed to be disturbed. More so, the case of a co-accused is pending before the Supreme Court. In no way, the hanging (of Rajoana) can take place,” he told the questioner.
In his two-page statement in the House, the Chief Minister said the issue is “sensitive and historic”. “The steps that the state government is going to take will have a reflection on our future generation as well,” he said.
“We stand scrutiny to history. We are duty-bound to maintain a congenial atmosphere for the future generation.” Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh, who had assured support and cooperation to the state government on the issue, was not present in the House when Badal made the statement.
The special CBI court had awarded death sentence to Rajoana and Jagtar Singh Hawara on August one, 2007. Lakhwinder Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Shamsher Singh were sentenced to life imprisonment for hatching the conspiracy to kill Beant Singh.
On August 31, 1995 as Beant Singh stepped out of his office at the high-security Punjab Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh, a suicide bomber Dilawar Singh blew himself up, killing the then CM and 17 others.
Rajoana was the second human bomb to be used in case Dilawar had failed in his mission.