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Updated: March 29, 2012 01:29 IST

Bandh hits normal life in Punjab

Sarabjit Pandher
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Members of various radical Sikh organisations take out a protest march against the death sentence awarded to Balwant Singh Rajoana, in Amritsar on Wednesday. Photo: Special Arrangement
The Hindu
Members of various radical Sikh organisations take out a protest march against the death sentence awarded to Balwant Singh Rajoana, in Amritsar on Wednesday. Photo: Special Arrangement

Except for a few isolated clashes, the bandh (shutdown) sponsored by various Panthic organisations in solidarity with Balwant Singh Rajoana, a death row convict, passed off peacefully. Normal life was disrupted as shops and other commercial establishments remained closed. There was little traffic on the roads.

According to reports, at least six persons were injured in clashes that broke out after some people objected to the pro-Khalistan slogans by protesters in Patiala. Reports of clashes and stone-throwing have also been received from Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Sangrur and Lehragagga.

The shutdown was complete in most parts of the State, as groups of men sporting “kesari” turbans and women draped in “kesari” dupattas participated in processions organised by the radical organisations seeking clemency for Rajoana, who faces the gallows after being convicted in the Beant Singh assassination case.

While Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh were camping in Delhi to meet President Pratibha Patil to seek clemency for Rajoana, about 60,000 police personnel and 15 companies of the paramilitary forces were deployed to keep a vigil and maintain law and order.

The security forces organised flag marches at various places, while the authorities enforced prohibitory orders to prevent assembly of more than five persons.

The apex Singh Sahiban (clerics) at the supreme religio-political seat, the Akal Takhat, through a “hukumnama” (edict) had directed the Chief Minister, the Akali Dal leadership and the SGPC to save Rajoana from the gallows.

They also asked the people to shun work and pray for the “Chardikala” (high spirits) of Rajoana.

However, about a dozen Panthic, radical and human rights' organisations had given a call for complete bandh in solidarity with Rajoana as well as seeking revocation of the death sentence.

However, Rajoana neither contested the case against him nor did he file an appeal against the court orders. Rather he had requested an expeditious execution of the death warrants against him.

Meanwhile, the former MLA and senior Congress leader, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, through an open letter, accused Mr. Badal and the Akali leadership of playing to the gallery on a sensitive issue with a view to making political capital without accepting any responsibility.

He said the Chief Minister was unnecessarily seeking clemency from the President, when the Code of Criminal Procedure in Section 433 Para (a) fully empowered the appropriate government to commute any sentence including death penalty.

Quoting Rajoana's letter, where he had expressed lack of confidence in the Akali leadership, Mr. Khaira wrote, “The stance taken by your alliance partner BJP is a well-crafted design of yours to keep both Sikhs as well as Hindus in good humour. You are riding the sympathy wave of Sikhs by posturing to save Bhai Rajoana from the gallows and the BJP by opposing clemency is trying to keep its Hindu electorate intact. This is what is exactly called the ‘Marriage of Convenience', an art that both the parties have perfected.”

The radical outfit, Dal Khalsa, thanked the people of Punjab for extending support to bandh call. Its spokesman Kanwar Pal Singh said in a statement that the response by the people had proved beyond doubt that Khalsa Panth fully stood by Rajoana.

Babbar Khalsa is a strong and powerful group and will do anything to have Khalistan in Punjab. Beware.

from:  Mani Iyer
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 17:27 IST

Today's Punjab Band is just absurd. The guy carries out an
intentional, deliberate and premeditated act of violence in which he kills 17 people, including a chief minister. Slow wheels of justice keep him alive, and after 20 years he finds himself standing at the threshold of ultimate penalty for his deeds. As he knows that he would probably never be released, he wants to accept death than prolong it via further appealing.
However some of his so called 'well wishers' want him to stay alive, and suffer a bit more - against his own wish. And to show their might, they would rather force the whole of Punjab to be shut for business. This is absurd. Should not these people fight for some 'just' cause than trying to prolong the life of a criminal?

from:  Parveen Mirza
Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 16:56 IST

Rajoana killed a CM who in his very rights tried to save his state from
the clutches of Militancy. What wrong did he do..why assassinate him?
Rajoana is a killer. And a killer deserves to be hanged till death. As
simple as that.

Posted on: Mar 28, 2012 at 11:38 IST
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