Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], January 10 (ANI): Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday urged the Union Government to set free Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana who was convicted in the former Chief Minister Beant Singh assassination case and has spent over two decades in jail.
Badal said, "This humanitarian gesture would be in conformation with civilized values and justice as Bhai Rajoana had already served more than the effective equivalent of a life sentence."
Badal asked the Congress Party leaders to rise above political opportunism and back the release of Bhai Rajoana.
"It is so unfortunate that Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has always hunted with the hounds and run with the hare when it comes to dealing with emotional Sikh issues. He tries to please his masters in Delhi by opposing the release of Bhai Rajoana while opportunistically maintaining 'personally he opposes capital punishment' stand. He is so afraid to take a categorical stand for the release of someone who has already spent the best part of his life in jail", Badal said.
Badal called upon both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind to personally expedite this gesture as a fulfilment of a national commitment made to Punjabis in general and the Sikh community in particular by the Government of India.
"In view of this commitment, there is no rationale behind keeping Bhai Rajoana behind bars for even a single day more as he has been in prison for over 26 years - much longer than the effective duration of a life term. His death sentence was changed to life imprisonment and Bhai Rajoana has served nearly twice as much time as a normal life term of 10 to 14 years," he said.
Expressing similar views, Badal tweeted, "I request the Union Government to set Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana free as a humanitarian gesture. He has served nearly 2 life terms in prison. All Congress leaders including Punjab Chief Minister should also back the release of Bhai Rajoana."
The tweet added, "Setting Bhai Rajoana free would also be in consonance with Government of India's commitment to commute the former's death sentence into life imprisonment as a special gesture to Sikh quom on the eve of the 550th Parkash Utsav of Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji."
On December 4, 2020, the Supreme Court asked the Central government when will it send a proposal to the President for the commutation of Balwant Singh Rajoana's death sentence for killing then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.
A Chandigarh court had, on July 27, 2007, awarded death sentence to Rajoana which was upheld by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on October 12, 2010. Rajoana has not filed an appeal against the decision and instead filed a mercy petition before the President.
On August 31, 1995, 17 people, including the then chief minister Beant Singh, were killed in an explosion outside the Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh. (ANI)