Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Punjab Bandh, CM to Meet PM, President Ahead of Rajoana's Hanging

New Delhi: Nearly 60,000 Punjab police personnel and 15 companies of para-military forces have been put on alert after a Chandigarh court ordered that Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted in former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh's killing, be hanged as scheduled on March 31.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 banning assembly of five or more persons were clamped at various places as a state wide bandh has been called on Wednesday by several Sikh organisations.

Security around the Central Jail at Patiala, where Rajoana is lodged, has been beefed up by erecting additional security check points and restricting the entry of those going towards the prison side. Official sources said that only persons with bonafide work are being allowed to proceed towards the Central Jail.

The SAD-BJP government and the Congress in the state have demanded grant of clemency to Rajoana.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday insisted that no action should be taken until the High Court passes its final verdict on the case. "My plea to the President is that the case is still on and no action should be taken yet. The law of the land must be upheld. I shall meet President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday," he said.

The court of additional district and sessions judge Shalini Singh Nagpal had on Tuesday rejected jail superintendent LS Jakhar's petition seeking deferment of the hanging. The court directed that the hanging be held as per earlier schedule on Saturday at 9 am.

Claiming that he was refusing to accept the warrant of death for Rajoana purely on the grounds that "there were legal infirmities in the procedure", Jakhar sought deferment of hanging pending a decision of the Supreme Court on the appeals of two other terrorists, Lakhwinder Singh and Jagtar Singh Hawara, who were also convicted in the Beant Singh assassination case.

"If the President decides to grant clemency or commutes the sentence from death to life, and in the mean time if someone hangs him, then how will you bring him back to life?" said Punjab Additional Advocate General AS Garewal.

The Jail Superintendent has even invited a contempt notice, but remains adamant.
"I have all regards for court. I have no doubt about it, but there is certain ruling that the Supreme Court has laid down. How can I violate that? I have to take a legal remedy. We will get to the High Court on Wednesday," said Patiala Jail Superintendent Lakhwinder Singh Jakhar.