Don't plead to save me from gallows, Rajoana tells Akalis

 With four days left for his scheduled hanging, death row convict Balwant Singh Rajoana today snubbed the ruling Akali leadership asking them not to save him from the gallows, claiming they were pushing for a pardon out of fear of losing support of Sikhs.

Punjab police and paramilitary forces conducted flag marches across the state apprehending violence if the execution of Rajoana convicted in the assassination of former Chief Minister Beant Singh is carried out.

Various Sikh organizations have given a bandh call in Punjab tomorrow in view of the expected hanging of Rajoana who has neither challenged his conviction nor filed any mercy petition. As per a court order, he is scheduled to be hanged on March 31 in the Patiala Central Jail.

In his latest letter released to Sikhs from the Patiala Jail, Rajoana said, "I don't need any help from blue-turbaned Akali leaders, who have not done anything so far to secure justice for Sikhs. Akali leaders have started speaking up now as they fear that if they don't, they will lose their support." He also called the Akali leaders as "cheaters".

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday said his government would support the SGPC petition sent yesterday to President seeking conversion of Rajoana's death sentence to a life term. The SAD patron also said he would meet the President and the Prime Minister to seek their intervention in saving Rajoana from the gallows.

The Centre sought to steer clear of the Rajoana clemency issue, appearing unwilling to intervene with Law Minister Salman Khurshid saying neither it nor the state government "can do anything outside the system".

Asked about Akali Dal government's demand for clemency to Rajoana, Khurshid said, "I have also heard it but this is the system, and neither the state government nor the Centre can do anything outside the system that has been put in place. We will have to work according to this."

The copies of Rajoana's letter were distributed by his foster sister Kamaldeep Kaur outside the Central Jail.

Rajoana also wrote that Akali leaders failed to secure justice from Delhi for innocent Sikhs and should not now throw their turbans before Delhi to seek clemency for him.

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