Rajoana row: Badal meets Prez, seeks intervention

Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal met President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil to seek her intervention in saving Balwant Singh Rajoana from the gallows.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday met President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan here to seek her intervention in saving Balwant Singh Rajoana from the gallows.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patron had yesterday said that his government would support the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) sent to President seeking conversion of Rajoana`s death sentence to a life term.

During the meeting Badal`s son and Deputy Cheif Minister of Punjab Sukhvir Singh Badal, MPs from SAD and SGPC chief were present.

The SAD-BJP government and the Congress in the state have demanded grant of clemency to Rajoana.

The Chief Minister insisted that no action should be taken until the High Court passes its final verdict on the case.
"My plea to the President is that the case is still on and no action should be taken yet. The law of the land must be upheld. I shall meet President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday," he told reporters.

A near total bandh today disrupted normal life in Punjab as shops and commercial establishments remained closed to protest the proposed execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana convicted in the Beant Singh assassination case.

The day-long shut down was called by radical Sikh outfits and other social organisations to protest the scheduled execution of Rajoana.

A blanket of saffron colour enveloped Punjab with women carrying same colour dupattas, Sikhs with saffron head gear and saffron flags donning residential and commercial establishments.

Shops, commercial establishments, offices and various educational institutions were closed. A number of examinations scheduled for the day by state educational institutions have also been deferred.

The protest in Punjab started after the Chandigarh trial court yesterday returned the death warrant of Balwant Singh Rajoana to Patiala Jail and ordered his execution on March 31.
The additional district and sessions judge Shalini Nagpal also issued a contempt of court notice to the Patiala central jail Superintendent Lakhwinder Singh Jakhar, who had appeared before her to return the death warrant against Rajoana on Monday.

The court order is a big setback to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) which had sought clemency for Rajoana hailing him as “living Sikh martyr”.

Hours ahead of the court ruling, Rajoana also snubbed the ruling Akali leadership asking them not to save him from the gallows, claiming they were pushing for a pardon out of fear of losing support of Sikhs.

In his latest letter released to Sikhs from the Patiala Jail, Rajoana said, "I don`t need any help from blue-turbaned Akali leaders, who have not done anything so far to secure justice for Sikhs. Akali leaders have started speaking up now as they fear that if they don`t, they will lose their support." He also called the Akali leaders as "cheaters".

The copies of Rajoana`s letter were distributed by his foster sister Kamaldeep Kaur outside the Central Jail.

Rajoana also wrote that Akali leaders failed to secure justice from Delhi for innocent Sikhs and should not throw their turbans now before Delhi to seek clemency for him.

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