Punjab to seek clemency for Bhullar

A resolution seeking to commute the death penalty for Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar to life imprisonment is likely to be presented in the Punjab Assembly, sources said. Reasons of public sentiments, and perhaps even more, something on similar lines to the Tamil Nadu resolution, could form a part of the resolution in Punjab seeking clemency for Bhullar.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said he is strongly for clemency for Bhullar and they were planning to bring a resolution in the Assembly in this regard. Badal said he will consult all political parties in the state before introducing the resolution.

With Assembly elections in Punjab less than four months away, the move is being seen as an attempt by the ruling Akali Dal among others to meet political ends.

Bhullar, a Khalistan activist in the eighties, was convicted in 2001 for attempting to murder the then Indian Youth Congress president Maninder Singh Bitta through a bomb blast in New Delhi in 1993. His conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court. His mercy petition was rejected by the President this year.

Interestingly, the move could land the ruling combine in a piquant situation ahead of the elections. The BJP is an ally of the ruling Akali Dal in Punjab. It is unlikely that the BJP will support any such resolution on the floor of the House as it may tend to contradict the saffron party’s stand at the national level, party sources said.

In fact, those opposing clemency for Bhullar are in a minority in Punjab. The issue of clemency for Bhullar has a lot of support from state politicians, cutting across party lines. The Congress in the opposition is also supporting mercy for Bhullar. The chief minister has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on this issue. Sikh priests at the highest Sikh Shine in Amritsar, the Golden Temple, have also appealed for clemency for Bhullar.

Radicals are also supporting the appeals. The European Union has also passed a resolution for clemency for Bhullar. “Support Bhullar T-shirts” are aplenty in the local markets.

The Khalistan ideologue had sought asylum in Germany in 1994. But before his appeal could be approved, he was deported to India where he was accused of conspiracy to murder Maninder Singh Bitta in 1993.

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