Babbar Khalsa terrorist Balwant Singh Rajoana, sentenced to death in the 1995 assassination of then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, is to hang as scheduled on March 31, a Chandigarh court ruled Tuesday as opposition began building up in some places in Punjab to protest the hanging.
As per the court’s orders, Rajoana has to be hanged Saturday (March 31) at 9 a.m. in the Patiala jail premises.
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 Monday moved a petition in the court of additional district and sessions judge Shalini Singh Nagpal here seeking deferment of Rajoana’s hanging.
In the petition, the jail superintendent had said that the matter relating to two other terrorists, Jagtar Singh Hawara and Lakhwinder Singh, 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.
Meanwhile, the case seeking deferment of Rajoana’s hanging would be taken up in the Punjab and Haryana High Court here Wednesday, a senior law officer of the Punjab government told media persons outside the district courts here.
Sources here said that the Patiala jail superintendent, despite the contempt showcause notice from the court, Tuesday again refused to accept the warrant of death citing legal issues.
Authorities in Punjab have beefed up security arrangements across the state in view of the latest orders of the court directing that Rajoana be hanged.
Nearly 60,000 Punjab police personnel and 15 companies of para-military forces have been put on alert. The security forces have taken out flag marches in some cities and towns since Monday.
In Jalandhar and a couple of other places, people carried out protests against the move to hang Rajoana.
A former Punjab Police constable, Rajoana has refused to defend himself in the Beant Singh assassination case saying that he was involved.
While the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, the Punjab government and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) have come out openly to support the campaign to save him from the gallows, Rajoana has, through a letter, asked the Akali Dal to refrain from doing so.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said Monday that there was a possibility of the BKI terrorist getting relief. Badal said the hanging of Rajoana could not be carried out in the present circumstances as there is a possibility of his getting relief in the assassination case.
The matter of two other terrorists, Jagtar Singh Hawara and Lakhwinder Singh, convicted in the same case, is pending before the Supreme Court. The CBI has approached the Supreme Court in Hawara’s case as his death sentence, awarded by the CBI special court in 2007, was commuted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2010 to life imprisonment. The appeal of Lakhwinder Singh against his conviction is also pending.
However, the high court had upheld Rajoana’s death sentence in the case as he had refused to defend himself.
Beant Singh, Punjab chief minister 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 here Aug 31, 1995.
While Hawara was the mastermind of the assassination, Rajoana was the second human bomb to be used in case the first assassin failed. Rajoana, during the entire 11-year trial, had admitted that he alone was responsible for the killing of Beant Singh.
The family members of Beant Singh have also stated that they had forgiven Rajoana and that his death sentence be converted to life imprisonment.