The Union Home Ministry has commuted the death sentence of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassin Balwant Singh Rajoana to life imprisonment on Monday.
An official from the Ministry of Home Affairs told “A decision has been taken to commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana and the process of issuing a formal notification is underway.”
The move came two days after BJP in Haryana refused a poll pact with its long standing ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). While SAD welcomed the move of Home Ministry Congress criticized the developments.
Former Chief Minister of Punjab was assassinated in an explosion allegedly carried out by Balwant Singh’s aide Dilawar Singh in 1995 when he was coming out of his office in Chandigarh. Beant Singh is credited for ending terrorism in the northern state. Sixteen others have lost their lives when Dilawar Singh blasted himself as a human bomb.
Death sentence of another convict in the case Jagtar Singh Hawara was reduced to life imprisonment in 2010 by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The Court at that time upheld the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana.
Rajoana’s death sentence scheduled on March 31, 2012 was stayed by the Central government on March 29, 2012. It was the shiromani Akali Dal party that was in power at that time campaigned against his execution and filed a mercy plea which the President forwarded to the Home Ministry for its consideration.
The Home Ministry also announced the release of eight Sikh prisoners charged in different cases when militancy peaked in Punjab on the occasion of 550th Birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Deviji in a humanitarian gesture.
The Sikh community widely appreciated the move by Centre as it was a long standing demand by the community to release the prisoners convicted during militancy.