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26 Jan 2022, 03:59 HRS IST
  • PTI
  • Will provide legal aid to Rajoana's family, says SAD

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19:43 HRS IST

Chandigarh, Oct 2 (PTI)
The SAD here on Wednesday said it will provide legal aid to the family of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who is lodged in a Punjab jail for the assassination of a former chief minister, against "insidious designs" of some Congress leaders.

The statement came a day after Gurkirat Singh Kotli, a Punjab MLA and grandson of slain Congress chief minister Beant Singh, said their family would move the Supreme Court against the Centre's decision commuting the death sentence of Rajoana.

The slain leader's another grandson and Ludhiana MP, Ravneet Singh Bittu, too has criticised the Centre's decision.

"It was unfortunate that instead of showing tolerance and compassion towards Rajoana and sentiments of the Akal Takth and the Sikh sangat, an attempt was being made by certain Congress leaders to recreate tension and fissures in civil society," Former Akali leader Maheshinder Singh Grewal said in a statement here.

He said the Shiromani Akali Dal was against any such attempt "aimed at striking at the core of peace and communal harmomy".

"We will provide all needed legal aid to the family of Rajoana to fight these insidious designs to reverse the humane relief given to him," Grewal added.

The SAD leader said the decision to commute the death sentence of Rajoana was aimed at "bringing closure to the festering wounds" of the Sikh community.

He termed efforts of the Congress leaders as "unfortunate, misconceived and against the spirit of peace and reconciliation".

The Akali leader said the SAD and the SGPC had always opposed the death penalty as a matter of principle and continued to do so.

"We have waged a long struggle to create consensus on this issue and this included approaching the Union government and well as the President on several occasions under the leadership of Parkash Singh Badal," he said.

The decision to release eight Sikh prisoners who had already completed their sentence and the commutation of Rajoana's death sentence were the fallout of the concerted efforts of the SAD and the SGPC, Grewal claimed.

He said the Congress leader opposing the commutation of the death penalty was part of the Vidhan Sabha when the House moved a resolution appealing the centre in this regard.

In a move just weeks ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, the Centre decided to commute Rajoana's death sentence and also release a group of Sikh prisoners.

Rajoana was convicted for his involvement in the assassination of former chief minister Beant Singh and 16 others at the Punjab Civil Secretariat in 1995.

"How is a terrorist of Kashmir different from a terrorist of Punjab? How can Rajoana who hasn't applied for pardon himself, doesn't believe in the law of land and wants to spread terror repeatedly be released by Modi Govt? Dual Face of Modi," Bittu had tweeted on Tuesday.

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