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No pardon has been given to Balwant Singh Rajoana: Amit Shah

By PTI
|

New Delhi, Dec 03: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday told the Lok Sabha that no pardon has been given to Balwant Singh Rajoana, who was convicted for the assassination of the then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995.

During the Question Hour, Congress member from Punjab Ravneet Singh Bittu sought a response from Shah on why Rajoana was pardoned. Bittu is the grandson of Beant Singh. Asking the member not to go by media reports, the home minister said, "koi maafi ki nahi gayi (no pardon has been given)".

Union Home Minister Amit Shah

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.

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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.

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    The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is part of the Narendra Modi government, had said the decision of commutation of death sentence would go a long way in assuaging the "hurt" feelings of the Sikh community who had to go through "unspeakable repression and humiliation during those dark days" when Punjab was pushed into terrorism. Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal is the SAD representative in the Union Cabinet.

    While announcing the commutation of Rajoana's death sentence, the home ministry had said eight other Sikh prisoners, lodged in different jails in the country for committing crimes during the militancy in Punjab, would also be released by the government on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Shri Guru Nanak Devji as a humanitarian gesture.

    A special court had in July 2007 awarded the death sentence to Rajoana, along with another terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara, in the Beant Singh assassination case. Rajoana, a Babbar Khalsa terrorist was the second human bomb in case the first one would have failed in killing the Congress leader.

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    Rajoana was scheduled to be hanged on March 31, 2012.

    However, the execution was stayed on March 28, 2012, by the then UPA government at the Centre after Shiromoni Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee, the Sikh religious body, filed a mercy petition. The Shiromani Akali Dal, which was then in power in Punjab, campaigned against his execution.

    The President had forwarded the plea to the Home Ministry to take a call on it. Since then the petition was pending with the home ministry.

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