Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted

Court refuses to pardon Rajoana, even as Centre steers clear of the row

Sikh radical groups in Mohali protest the decision to hang Rajoana on March 31
Chandigarh: A sessions court on Tuesday rejected the petition seeking deferment of the hanging of Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for assassination of former state chief minister Beant Singh, and ordered carrying out the sentence on March 31 as scheduled.

Hours after the ruling, Punjab CM  Parkash Singh Badal reached New Delhi to meet the President to seek clemency for the Babbar Khalsa International militant. Meanwhile, the Centre made its position clear with Law Minister Salman Khurshid saying that neither it nor the state government “can do anything outside the system”.

Amid protests in the state against the court ruling, the man facing the gallows has maintained that he doesn’t want sympathy from anyone.
The court returned the warrant of death of Rajoana to the Patiala jail authorities. The court also issued a showcause notice for contempt of court to Patiala prison jail superintendent L S Jakhar for returning the warrant of death earlier. 

The Patiala superintendent had on Monday moved a petition seeking deferment of Rajoana’s hanging. 

In the petition, the jail superintendent had said that the matter relating to two other terrorists, who were also convicted in the Beant Singh assassination case, was pending before the Supreme Court and Rajoana could not be hanged while this was pending. 

Sources here said that the Patiala jail superintendent, despite the contempt show-cause notice from the court, on Tuesday again refused to accept the warrant of death citing legal issues. 

Meanwhile, the case seeking deferment of Rajoana’s hanging would be taken up in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday. The government has beefed up security arrangements across the state in view of the court ruling. 

Beant Singh, Punjab CM between 1992 and 1995 and largely credited with wiping out terrorism from the state, was assassinated by a human bomb, Dilawar Singh, at the high security Punjab civil secretariat in Chandigarh on August 31, 1995.

While Hawara was the mastermind of the assassination, Rajoana was the back-up human bomb. Rajoana, during the trial, had steadfastly maintained that he alone was responsible for the killing of Beant Singh and never pleaded for clemency.  

Rajoana slams politicians
In a letter addressed to the Akal Takht, Rajoana has refused to accept any sympathy from the BJP, Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh or from Beant Singh’s family members. 

He wrote, “I have fought for my rights all through my life. I do not want to give away my principles for anyone.” 

Rajoana criticised politicians, especially the Akalis saying, “I neither trusted them (Akalis) nor believe them as they have failed to get justice from New Delhi. These leaders were mum till date, and suddenly, they are speaking for my clemency.” 

He added: “All I know how they have made money and what their reality is. The Akalis should give away blue turbans and instead don khaki turbans for failing to get justice from New Delhi time and again.” 

“Asking for mercy from them is not even in my distant dreams,” Rajoana said in his letter. 

The jailor who defied court

The Rajoana case has brought Patiala jail superintendent Lakhwinder Singh Jakhar (in pic) into limelight and earned him court’s wrath. As per rules, since the jail doesn’t have a hangman, Jakhar is supposed to do the job of executing Rajoana. Jakhar first offered to quit saying he didn’t want to face the anger of Sikhs. On Monday, he moved the court saying the matter relating to two other terrorists, also convicted in the same case, was pending before the SC and Rajoana could not be hanged while this was pending. 

Following this, the court issued a show-cause notice to Jakhar on Tuesday for returning the death warrant. Sources say despite the court rap, Jakhar has again refused to accept the warrant of death citing legal issues.