Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday refuted last month’s media reports that claimed the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in the assassination case of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, had been commuted to life term, PTI reported.
Beant Singh’s grandson Ravneet Singh Bittu, who is now a Congress MP, had sought a clarification from Shah during the Question Hour in the Lok Sabha. He had asked why Rajoana was granted pardon.
The home minister urged members to not go by media reports and said: “No pardon has been given.”
Reports last month said the Centre had conveyed the decision to commute Rajoana’s death sentence to the Punjab and Chandigarh administrations. Rajoana is currently lodged in Patiala Central Jail.
Rajoana was to be hanged in March 2012, but the Centre had stayed the execution after the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, a Sikh religious body, submitted a mercy petition to the president. Rajoana was a member of banned terrorist group Babbar Khalsa International.
Beant Singh, known for his role in curbing terrorism in Punjab, was assassinated on August 31, 1995, in an explosion outside the Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh. Sixteen others also lost their lives in the terror attack.
Ravneet Singh Bittu had hit out at politicians who had welcomed the move to commute Rajoana’s death sentence. He had said that the Narendra Modi-led government and its alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal have “stooped to the lowest level for petty political gains”. He had said that their family would move the Supreme Court against the decision.
The home ministry had said earlier that eight Sikh prisoners lodged in different jails in the country for committing crimes during the militancy period in Punjab would be released by the government as a goodwill gesture on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. Rajoana was the only Sikh prisoner on death row in a militancy-related case.