A slain CM's family may forgive killer

Rajoana is on death row for assassinating Beant Singh

With a fortnight left for the hanging of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who assassinated then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in August 1995, there are indications that the Beant Singh’s family may seek mercy for him.

Balwant Singh Rajoana

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 the assassin 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, told Deccan Herald: “We received a call from DSGMC chief P S Sarna who discussed the issue with us. We are deliberating the issue. The issue will also be taken up in the meeting of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) today (Saturday) evening, following which a decision will be taken.”

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. Beant Singh 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.

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.

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