Chandigarh, Dec 3 (IANS) The Akali Dal on Tuesday described as “very unfortunate” the statement of Union Home Minister Amit Shah on not commuting the death sentence of Babbar Khalsa terrorist Balwant Singh Rajoana for the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.
Shah made the announcement in the Lok Sabha while responding to Congress MP and Beant Singh’s grandson Ravneet Singh Bittu during Question Hour.
Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal, whose party is in alliance with the BJP in Punjab, said a party delegation will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah to take up the issue with them.
“On behalf of the party, I want to say that it is very unfortunate,” he told the media here.
Addressing the Home Minister, the Ludhiana MP asked: “Why did you commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana?”
Responding in Hindi, Shah said: “Please, don’t go by media reports. Koi maafi ki nahi gai (the sentence has not been commuted).”
The Home Minister’s statement was contrary to the reports last month which said that the Union Home Ministry had commuted Rajaona’s death sentence.
Rajoana, 52, who is currently lodged in Patiala Central Jail, is the prime accused in the case and he will now serve life imprisonment.
A former Punjab Police constable, Rajoana was sentenced to death on August 1, 2007, by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Chandigarh.
The Home Ministry this September had approved the commutation of Rajoana’s death sentence to a life-term as a humanitarian gesture ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, a decision which was criticised by Bittu.
Besides Rajoana, the Home Ministry had granted a special dispensation to eight other Sikh prisoners from various jails in the country on the occasion.
On March 28, 2012, the Home Ministry had stayed Rajoana’s execution following clemency appeals filed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the Sikh body managing religious shrines.
Beant Singh and 16 others were killed in an explosion outside the Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh on August 31, 1995.
Dilawar Singh, a Punjab Police officer, had acted as a suicide bomber to assassinate Beant Singh.
Rajoana was the second bomber in case Dilawar Singh failed to kill the Congress leader. Rajoana had cited the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as the reason behind the killing of Beant Singh.