London: Amnesty International today welcomed
the final hour reprieve for Babbar Khalsa terrorist Balwant
Singh Rajoana but it wants India to commute all capital
"Balwant Singh`s reprieve is a welcome decision by the
Indian government. His execution would have been the first in
India in eight years and would have set back the country`s
alignment with the global trend away from the death penalty,"
Bikramjeet Batra, Amnesty International`s policy adviser,
"This should be a first step by the Indian authorities to
real progress away from this inhuman act: they need to
establish an official moratorium on executions, commute all
death sentences and ultimately abolish the death penalty for
all crimes," he added.
Rajoana, 44, was scheduled to be hanged on March 31 in
Punjab, but his execution has been stayed, pending an appeal
by the Punjab state government to the Indian President.
The Indian government intervened in view of the matter
taking a political turn and wide-spread protests against the
hanging all over the state. Punjab also witnessed a state-wide
Bandh yesterday against Rajoana`s hanging on Saturday.
Rajoana was found guilty in 2007 of the assassination of
former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995.
No executions have been carried out in India since 2004.
Two thirds of all countries have abolished the death
penalty. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in
all cases without exception.
The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and
degrading punishment, it said in a statement.