Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict on death row for the assassination of the then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995, went on an indefinite hunger strike at the Patiala central jail on Thursday.
In his letter addressed to Sikh community, he flayed the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee for not following up on the mercy petition it had moved on his behalf before the President in 2012, and demanded “clarity” on his case.
Rajoana, a Babbar Khalsa militant, was sentenced to death in 2006 by a special CBI court in Chandigarh. The sentence was later confirmed by the Punjab and Haryana high court. The Centre, however, stayed his hanging two days before the execution on March 31, 2012, after the President referred the matter to the Union home ministry following the SGPC petition. The matter is pending since then.
“I have been in jail for the past 21 years and waiting for the verdict... But due to irresponsible role of the SGPC, the central government has kept the decision pending,” he stated in his letter, which was first uploaded by his sister Kamaldeep Kaur on her Facebook page and later circulated to media.
Rajoana stated that he had refused to hire an advocate and did not move any appeal against his death sentence, but the SGPC filed a mercy petition on the “popular demand of Sikh Sangat”, and did not pursue it.
Kaur accused the SGPC and the Centre of “bias”, which “forced” his brother to sit on a hunger strike. “In the past four years, he (Rajoana) moved several RTI applications before the Centre, but did not get any response,” she said.
Confirming the development, Patiala jail superintendent Bhupinderjit Singh Virk said: “Rajoana submitted a notice about his hunger strike in advance, and we forwarded it to higher officials. He was found to be in sound health on the first day of the strike.”