Five Facts About Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana Death Sentence

Morcha Kesri Lehar - I Pledge Orange Rally

Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana Poster
Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana Poster. Photo © [Jasleen Kaur]

1) Rajoana Execution Date - Saturday, March 31, 2012:

Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana, a former Punjab police officer considered by many Sikhs to be a hero and living martyr, is sentenced to be executed as ordered by hanging at 9 am on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at Patalia Central Jail of Patalia India. No other case of capital punishment has occurred in Punjab for 24 years.

2) Beant Assassination - August 31, 1995:

Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana, a Punjab policeman, witnesses atrocities against Sikhs and cover ups by police. Balwant Singh acts with Delawar Singh, Jagtar Singh Hawara, and Lakhwinder Singh to assassinate Beant Singh the Chief Minister of Panjab considered to be responsible for the harassment and murder of thousands of innocent Sikhs while holding office from 1192 - 1995 following the 1984 Golden Temple invasion, assassination of Indira Gandhi and ensuing unrest in Punjab. On August 31, 1995, Delawar Singh succeeds in slaying Beant Singh with an explosive devise attached to his body which also kills him and 17 others.

3) Death Sentence Awarded - August 1, 2007:

Balwant Singh Rajoana and Jagtar Singh Hawara are found guilty of aiding Delawar Singh in July of 2007 an on August 1, 2007 are sentenced to death by special CBI court in Chandigarh, India. Jagtar Singh appeals and in 2010 his sentence is reduced to life imprisonment by the Harynan High court of Punjab, India.

Balwant Singh declines an appeal professing lack of faith in India's justice system.

4) Rallies and Petitions - March, 2012:

During the entire month of March in 2012, thousands of Sikhs around the world engage in Morcha Kersri Lehar the "I Pledge Orange" rally in support of Balwant Singh Rojoana petitioning that his death sentence be commuted to Life in Prison.

The term for a life sentence in India is 17 year which is the duration of Rajoana's time served, and many Sikhs feel that he should be freed. UK Sikhs appeal to their Foreign Secretary to contact Amnesty International and the Houses of Common. NGO, Lawyers for Human Rights International, file an appeal to the Supreme Court on behalf of Balwant Singh Rajoana. Sikh parliament Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) petitions President Pratibha Patil citing 11 similar cases. Akal Takhat proclaims Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana to be a "Zinda Shaheed," or living martyr, a title which Balwant Singh rejects.

5) Petition Overruled - March 27, 2012:

Balwant Singh writes a letter from prison attacking the Punjab Government for trying to save him and in an attempt to mollify emotionally charged current and accusing the Akali Dal party as "cheaters" lax in pursuing justice for Sikhs killed in the 1984 Delhi Massacre. Patalia Jail officials tell court the hanging cannot proceed due to irregularities as appeals are pending. Overriding the plea petitioned by Patalia Jail, Chandighar Court rules and issues orders for the execution to be conducted according to schedule. Punjab enforces ordinance banning assembly of more than five people as execution date approaches.

India suffers a media blackout concerning the issue of Balwant Singh Rajoana. There has never been justice for thousands of Sikhs murdered by Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler, Beant Singh and others whose cases have never come to trial, or have been dismissed as outdated.

Stay of Execution Updates:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Union Home Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issues a stay of execution for Balwant Singh Rajoana based on appeal filed by SGPC citing Article 72 of the Constitution giving the President authority to pardon, remit or commute sentences. Punjab chief Minister (CM) Parkash Singh Badal and son Sukhbir Singh make the announcement after meeting with President Pratibha Patil to seek clemency. MHA Joint secretary JL Chugh explains that the Stay of Execution is in effect until appeal no 2277/2200 and 1464/2011 is reviewed by the Supreme Court and order issued or until the President gives his order concerning the mercy plea.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gurdaspur police fire shots to disperse assembly nearby Ramgarhia Gurdwara on Tibri Road killing 18 year old Jaspal Singh of Sidhwan Jamita Village and wounding Ranjit Singh of Pandher who is hospitalized in Amritsar. Sikhs everywhere urge fellow Sikhs to adhere to peaceful assembly and not to resort to violence or communal retaliation which could trigger military intervention and more deaths, when the goal is to save a life. Calls for inquiry are made to DC Mohinder Singh of Gurdaspur Police at 00911874247500. President Dyal Nanda of Hindu organization Shiv Sena Mahasangram shows solidarity with Sikhs by announcing a hunger strike demanding release of Balwant Singh Rajoana.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Rumors imply that Ranjeet Singh Mandher of Soorma age 16 succumbs to injuries suffered in Gurdaspur by police bullets. JP Salwan Naib Tehsildar of Gurdaspur police is suspended for alleged failure of maintaining order during clash which resulted in two deaths. Sikh leaders in Punjab are arrested and detained in efforts to control Sikh population protests. Media blackout makes it difficult to substantiate Internet rumors that despite the stay of execution the government is transferring Balwant Singh Rajoana from Patalia Jail to Delhi, a location outside of Punjab and the hanging order is to proceed as scheduled on March 31, 2012.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Curfews enforced in Punjab are lifted for 2 hours from 6:300 am - 8:30 am only. Very little news due to media blackout and suppression of cell phones and internet in Punjab.

New rumors difficult to substantiate apparently place Balwant Singh Rojana in Patalia jail suggesting he has never been moved to Delhi. Internet photographs show Ranjit Singh Mandher on his way to hospital in a rickshaw he hired after being shot by Guraspur police, and word is that he is in recovery after surgery is followed by news of his death. Other internet photographs show family with the body of deceased Jaspal Singh at his funeral. And still others show immense rallies around the world in support of Rajoana. International Amnesty organizations get involved and Canadian MP officials involve the United Nations in putting pressure on India to abolish the death penalty, while India's Supreme Court criticizes government officials in Punjab for considering stay of execution in the Rajoana case.

Media Black Outs and Continued Appeals

Media black outs make it difficult to assess where Balwant Singh Rajoana is held during his stay of execution. Efforts of appeal to abolish India's capital punishment policy are continued by Sikhs around the world on behalf of Rajoana.

Questions

Many Sikhs wish not only to commute the death sentence in the Rajoana case but seek his release, stating that he has served a 17 year life sentence, and deserves freedom. Some touting his humility and courage even hope to make him a prominent Panthik leader raising the question is a convicted murderer a good choice of candidate for Jathadar?

The focus on the high profile case of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajona has resulted in renewed efforts around the world to adopt the UN policy to abolish capital punishment raising the question is the death penalty is ever justified?

Sources

(Sikhism.About.com is part of the About.com Group.)