Chandigarh, Panjab: How long will Parkash Singh Badal, the recently re-elected Chief Minister of Panjab, keep his eyes closed and lips locked on the plight of the Sikh community in the state of Panjab?
Years after years are going by but the autumn-stern destiny of the Sikh community is not finding the blow of wind which may give them the feel of a blooming spring. Time and again such events keep taking place which seem to be salting the Sikh wounds. Now, the news of the issuance of a black warrant for the execution of Bhai Balwant Singh has created a wave of agony among the whole community. As per reports, according to the orders of the death warrant issued by the Additional Sessions Judge Shalini Nagpal, Mr. Singh is to be hanged on 31st of March in Patiala Central Jail at 9 am. (http://www.hindustantimes.com/Punjab/Patiala/Beant-Singh-case-convict-to-be-hanged-on-March-31/SP-Article1-824963.aspx)
Balwant Singh was involved in assassination of the notorious CM Panjab, Beant Singh in August 1995. In his statement before the trial court Balwant Singh confessed that he helped Bhai Delawar Singh to blast himself to get rid of the the Chief Minister whom the Sikh community had held responsible for the killing of innocent civilians in Panjab during his tenure in office. Consequently, in July 2007, the court passed a death sentence against him and his other companion, Jagtar Singh Hawara. Later, the Panjab and Haryana High Court reduced Jagtar Singh’s sentence to life imprisonment but Balwant Singh refused to appeal saying that he has no faith in the Indian Judicial System which has failed to bring justice for victims of massacres in all parts of India and has failed to exercise its powers to protect the weak and vulnerable..(http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/2009/10/01/no-faith-in-indian-judicial-system-says-bhai-balwant-singh-rajoana/)
In India the death sentence has not been abolished completely but keeping in view the sanctity of the life and sensitivity of the matter, the Supreme Court of India ruled in 1983 that capital punishment should be awarded “in the rarest of rare cases” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2586611.stm). Records show that Bhai Balwant Singh’s execution will be the first execution in the state of Panjab in last 24 years (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/MJ20Df01.html) Moreover, Bhai Balwant Singh will be the first person in India to be hanged till death after the execution of Dhananjoy Chatterjee of Kolkata in August 2004 who raped and murdered Hetal Parekh in her house at Bhowanipur on March 5 1990. (http://www.thehindu.com/news/ states/other-states/article2995397.ece)
The Panjab government knows all these realities, yet it is silent. However, the state government officials fear the aftermath of the execution and are trying to shift the burden to Chandigarh, a Union territory. DGP Jails, Shashi Kant, in a surprise visit to the Patiala Central Jail, is reported to have said:
“Our Home Department would inform the UT Home Secretary shortly as our understanding with the Chandigarh Administration does not authorize us to hang a convict who committed a crime in Chandigarh and is their prisoner”. (http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120316/main7.htm)
Here a question arises: that what is the Badal Government? Does it want to remain a spectator of the drama ? Does it feel no obligation to intervene? Does it have no courage to play its role in saving a life?
Badal’s Government must learn a lesson from Jayalalithaa who came up with a resolution for the commutation of the three convicts in murder case of Ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. (http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/2011/09/05/death-penalty-issue-turn-of-punjab-jk-to-pass-resolutions-dal-khalsa/) The Tamil Nadu state assembly passed the resolution unanimously, despite the fact that after the rejection of the mercy petition by the President, there was no legal significance of such resolution. Yet it created a feel among the Tamil masses that their Chief Minister cared for them. The case is still pending in Madras High court.
Voices For Freedom (VFF) urges Parkash Singh Badal to follow the foot-steps of CM Jayalalithaa to pass a a resolution in the Panjab assembly in favor of Bhai Balwant Singh to commute his death sentence.
t is true that by assassinating Beant Singh, Bhai Balwant Singh took the law into his own hands, for which he has been convicted. Would it be just to send him to the gallows whilst thousands of victims of acts of terror and disappearances during Beant Singh’s regime still wait for justice?. Would similar treatment be meted out to people like Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler etc. who egged on the mobs to burn turbaned men to ashes in the November 84 pogroms? What about police officers such as Sumedh Saini and K.P. Gill who killed countless Sikhs in fake encounters in Panjab?
It must be mentioned here that while discouraging the death penalty and suggesting that the capital punishment should be awarded in “rarest of rare cases”, the Supreme Court also recommended that capital punishment should be awarded to those who are found involved in fake encounters. (http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/hang-cops-involved-in-fake-encounters-supreme-court-125290)
VFF calls on the Badal government to wake up and prove that his government is “of the people and for the people” in the real sense of the word.