Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal on Sunday sought "direct and immediate intervention" of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to save the life of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, a Khalistani militant facing the gallows for terror activities.
Bhullar, whose mercy petition was rejected by President Pratibha Patil recently, is a Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) terrorist sentenced to death for a 1993 car bomb attack that killed 12 people and injured 29, including former Youth Congress chief MS Bitta.
A statement released on behalf of party patron and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Akali Dal President and Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in Chandigarh on Sunday said that the Prime Minister should "personally see that the highest norms of jurisprudence, legal precedents and issues of statesmanship are kept firmly in view in the matter and a sympathetic view taken".
The statement added that positive action by the Prime Minister "would be an act of grace" which will "ensure that the atmosphere of acrimony, suspicion and estrangement between the Sikhs and the centre is not vitiated any further".
Citing the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of the murder of a Christian missionary by Hindu activist Dara Singh in Orissa, the statement said that the court had commuted the death sentence of the accused to a life imprisonment in view of "the religious and emotional factors" that led to the crime.
The Akali leaders said that there was no reason why the same yardstick should not be applied to Bhullar's case.
They said that the country would in no way be threatened if the death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment in the Bhullar case. It added that this would play a major role in strengthening emotional bonds among the people.
Convicted in 2001, Bhullar's mercy petition was pending with the President since January 2003.
Bhullar was the mastermind of a car bomb attack on Bitta in front of the 5, Raisina Road office of the Youth Congress Sep 11, 1993. The daring RDX blast in the heart of New Delhi had shocked the nation.
Bhullar was deported to India from Germany in 1995 and has been lodged in the high security ward in the Tihar Jail. He was sentenced to death Aug 25, 2001 and the Supreme Court dismissed his special leave petition Dec 27, 2006.
Sikh communities and human rights activists were running a campaign asking that his mercy petition be accepted.