Pressured, Centre stays hanging of Beant killer | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Pressured, Centre stays hanging of Beant killer

Amid growing tension in Punjab over the hanging of Balwant Singh Rajoana, an accused in the killing of Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995, the Centre stayed the March 31 execution.

chandigarh Updated: Mar 28, 2012 23:19 IST

Amid growing tension in Punjab over the hanging of Balwant Singh Rajoana, an accused in the killing of Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995, the Centre stayed the March 31 execution.

The decision, taken in response to a mercy petition by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), suits all political parties - including the Congress and the BJP - that did not want to be seen to be soft on terror, but did not want to antagonise Sikh opinion either.

The home ministry said in a letter that Rajoana's hanging had been "stayed" till the Supreme Court decides on his co-accused, Jagtar Singh Hawara and Lakhwinder Singh's appeals, or the President's order on the petition - whichever comes later.

The ministry's message on the petition came around the time Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was at the Rashtrapati Bhavan to hand over the mercy petition on Wednesday evening.

Earlier, Rajoana did not challenge the trial court sentence in the high court and told political parties not to file mercy pleas for him. But the Sikh clergy and the Akali Dal government had lobbied hard for him.

Badal pointed out to the President that Punjab had come out of tragic times and was close to the international border and militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir.

"There is complete political unanimity in favour of clemency being granted to Rajoana. The Congress party as well as the family of the late Beant Singh has also strongly pleaded for clemency," Badal's letter said.

SAD ally BJP has had to walk a tightrope. The party wants to be seen as tough against terror, and not take a stand contradicting its position on Afzal Guru.

So, when Badal met senior BJP leaders including LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley in two separate meetings - the latest on Tuesday - he was politely told that the BJP would like the law to take its own course in the Rajoana execution issue.