Badal lauds Centre’s move of providing relief to Rajoana as ‘statesmanlike, humane’
The gesture will go a long way in assuaging the sentiments of the Sikh community, Badal said in a press statement.Updated: Oct 01, 2019 06:20 IST
Former chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patriarch Parkash Singh Badal on Monday lauded the central government’s decision to commute Balwant Singh Rajoana’s death sentence to life imprisonment, terming it “statesmanlike, far-sighted and humane”.
The gesture will go a long way in assuaging the sentiments of the Sikh community, Badal said in a press statement.
“Every step that strengthens hands of the forces of peace and communal harmony and cements the Hindu-Sikh unity in Punjab and the country should be welcomed by everyone,” he added.
Badal said when he was chief minister, he repeatedly asked the Centre to review its policy on Punjab in general and the Sikhs in particular. “But I had to face utter insensitivity and callousness during the Congress era,” he claimed.
The Akali stalwart said the SAD and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) had always opposed death penalty as a matter of principle. “We had to wage a long and hard struggle to get Rajoana’s death sentence commuted. We approached the Centre, met and gave memoranda to the President on several occasions,” he added.
The former chief minister said the issue of the execution of the death sentence to Rajoana was “one of the most sensitive and toughest moments” that he had to face during the SAD-BJP tenure.
SGPC also welcomes decision
Welcomed the decision on Rajoana, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Gobind Singh Longowal said the matter related to sentiments of the Sikh community. On Bittu’s opposition, Longowal said this was his own view. “We respect the decision of the Centre on Rajoana,” he added.
Echoing similar sentiments, Rajoana’s sister Kamaldeep Kaur said he had already spent 24 years in jail.
“My brother has always raised voice against atrocities of the Congress during the anti-Sikh riots. We thank the Union government for having some sympathy for us,” she said.