Other States

Akali Dal welcomes commutation of Rajoana’s death sentence

Decision will assuage feelings of Sikh community, it says

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has welcomed the Centre’s decision to commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for the assassination of the then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, into life imprisonment.

Former Minister and senior Akali Dal leader Daljit Singh Cheema on Wednesday said the decision would go a long way in assuaging the hurt feelings of the Sikh community. “We are grateful to the Modi government for taking so many pro-Punjab and pro-Sikh decisions aimed at ending the feeling of alienation among the Sikhs,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Cheema said the SAD and the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) had always opposed the death penalty as a matter of principle. “We have waged a long struggle to create consensus including approaching the Union government and the President on several occasions under the leadership of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The decision of releasing eight Sikh prisoners who had completed their full term and commuting the death sentence of Rajoana into life-imprisonment is a direct fall out of the concerted efforts of the SAD and the SGPC,” he said.

The Ministry of Home Affairs took an “in principle” decision on September 30 to commute the sentence as a “humanitarian gesture” ahead of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak. It had also decided to release the eight prisoners convicted for life for their involvement in Sikh militancy as a “token of goodwill”. Rajoana was sentenced to death by a special court in 2007 and he refused to file a mercy petition. The SGPC filed a petition on his behalf in 2014. Beant Singh and at least 16 others were killed in an explosion outside the Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh in 1995.

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Printable version | May 23, 2020 10:57:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/akali-dal-welcomes-commutation-of-rajoanas-death-sentence/article29964842.ece

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