Akal Takht for release of Beant assassin

Akal Takht for release of Beant assassin

SAD top leadership to discuss the issue today

Punjab is in the grip of surcharged sentiments to save Babbar Khalsa militant Balwant Singh Rajoana from the gallows, after the Akal Takht issued an edict on Friday seeking his unconditional release from the high security Patiala jail, about 100 km from here.

Rajoana, on death row for the killing of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in August, 1995, outside the Punjab civil secretariat, is to be hanged a week from now on March 31 at 9 am.

The Akal Takht edict, pronounced in the presence of other high priests in Amritsar, declared Rajoana a “living martyr” of the community.

It  directed Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Shiromani Gurdwara
Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) and ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)  heads to meet President Pratibha Patil to save Rajoana from death. Dilawar Singh, the human bomb who killed Beant Singh, was declared  “quami shaheed” (martyr of the community).

To step up pressure to save Rajoana, the Akal Takht has directed the entire community to suspend work on March 28 and pray for Rajoana. Sikhs have been asked to wear saffron turbans on March 28 as a mark of protest against the “injustice” meted out to Rajoana in particular and the community in general. Women all over have been asked to wear saffron dupatta on that day.

Sikhs have also been asked to hoist saffron flags atop their houses on March 28 and stop routine work to pray for the “living martyr”.

In wake of the development,  SAD chief and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has called an emergency meeting of the core group to discuss the issue on Sunday.

Meanwhile, grandson of Beant Singh and Punjab Congress MLA Gurkirat Singh has said he has no objection to clemency for Rajoana. “All I am concerned is about the hard earned peace in Punjab,” he said.

Earlier, Gyani Gurbachan Singh, in a marathon meeting that lasted 7 hours, consulted nearly 250 Sikh political, religious, fundamentalists and radical groups on the issue. He said in various countries the practice of death sentences had been discontinued and the same should be followed in India.

Supporters of Rajoana were also holding placards of Khalisthan zindabad. On August 31, 1995, at Chandigarh, Beant Singh’s body was blown to pieces by members of militant outfit Babbar Khalsa. The mastermind Jagtar Singh Hawara and Balwant Singh Rajoana were arrested in Dec 1995. Both were awarded death sentence by the CBI special court.

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