Chandigarh, Dec 3 (PTI) The Shiromani Akali Dal on Tuesday termed as 'very unfortunate' the statement of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Parliament that no pardon has been given to Balwant Singh Rajoana, who was convicted for the assassination of then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995.
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the remarks has caused 'pain and anguish' to the Sikh community, adding a party delegation will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah to take up the matter with them. The SAD is an ally of the BJP at the Centre.
'I want to say on my party's behalf that it is very unfortunate. Because earlier reports came in -- that the media had highlighted -- that the government of India had decided to give pardon to him (Rajoana) on the occasion of the 550thbirth anniversary celebrations (of Guru Nanak Dev),' he told reporters here.
The Home Minister on Tuesday told the Lok Sabha that no pardon has been given to Rajoana.
He was replying to a Congress member from Punjab Ravneet Singh Bittu, who had sought a response from Shah on why Rajoana was pardoned, during the Question Hour.
Bittu is the grandson of Beant Singh.
Asking Bittu not to go by media reports, Shah said, 'koi maafi ki nahi gayi (no pardon has been given)'.
In September, the Union Home Ministry officials had announced the central government's decision to commute the death sentence of Rajoana to life imprisonment.
The decision was taken as a 'humanitarian gesture' on the occasion of 550th birth celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, the officials had said.
Badal said Rajoana has been in jail for 30 years without parole, which is an 'injustice'.
'A delegation of our party will meet the PM and the Home Minister,' he said.
Later in a statement, the SAD chief said the statement of Shah that Rajoana's death sentence had not been commuted had caused 'pain and anguish' to the Sikh community which was under the impression that the death sentence had been commuted to life on the eve of the 550 Parkash Purb celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.
'We all feel aggrieved today. We thought we had moved ahead when news statements appeared last month quoting the home ministry officials as telling the death sentence of Rajoana had been commuted. However, today's assertion has shocked everyone.
'There is a feeling of hurt that justice has not been done to the Sikh community and the spirit of the clemency which was espoused on the occasion of the 550th Parkash Purb has not been carried through,' Badal said.
The SAD president alleged that it appeared that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had played a 'double game' on this issue, which had also 'influenced' the decision of the Union government.
He claimed the state government did not include the name of Rajoana in the list of names of Sikh detenues who had been incarcerated in jail even after the completion of their sentences.
Badal said the chief minister should tell why he did not recommend Rajoana's name for clemency.
He said the SAD stood for adopting a humanitarian approach in the case and had conveyed the same to the Centre through various representations.
'We feel this is a deserving case for clemency as Rajoana has been in prison without parole,' he said.
Rajoana, a former Punjab Police constable, was convicted for his involvement in an explosion outside the Punjab civil secretariat that killed Beant Singh and 16 others in 1995. PTI CHS VSD AQS AQS AQS