Punjab: Rajoana ends hunger strike after meeting Akal Takht jathedar - Hindustan Times
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Punjab: Rajoana ends hunger strike after meeting Akal Takht jathedar

ByKaram Prakash, Patiala
Dec 08, 2023 09:01 PM IST

On indefinite fast since December 5, death row convict in Beant Singh assassination case ends fast on Friday after he was assured of decision on his mercy petition by December 31

Balwant Singh Rajoana, a death row convict in former chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination case, ended his hunger strike on Friday morning after a delegation led by Akal Takht jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh met him in the Patiala jail.

Balwant Singh Rajoana, a death row convict in former chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination case, ended his hunger strike on Friday morning after a delegation led by Akal Takht jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh met him in the Patiala jail. (HT file photo)
Balwant Singh Rajoana, a death row convict in former chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination case, ended his hunger strike on Friday morning after a delegation led by Akal Takht jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh met him in the Patiala jail. (HT file photo)

Rajoana ended the indefinite fast that he had started on December 5 by sipping ‘jal (water)’ the delegation brought from the sarovar (holy tank) of Golden Temple in Amritsar.

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He had gone on fast demanding the withdrawal of the mercy petition filed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) before the President in 2012 in view of its prolonged pendency.

Rajoana’s sister Kamaldeep Kaur had requested the Akal Takht jatehdar to meet him to persuade him to end his hunger strike. After meeting the Sikh clergy, jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh had asked the SGPC to review its decision not to withdraw the mercy petition if the Centre does not commute the convict’s death sentence till December 31.

Rajoana was scheduled to be hanged on March 31, 2012. The execution was stayed on March 28, 2012, by the then Congress-led government at the Centre after the SGPC filed the mercy petition on his behalf. Thereafter, the then President had forwarded the mercy plea to the home ministry with which it is still pending.

This is not the first time Rajoana had gone on an indefinite fast. He undertook a hunger strike in November 2016, and thereafter in July 2018. In January 2020, he had gone on fast to press for his demand to dispose of the mercy petition. This time, however, the hunger strike is to press for the withdrawal of the mercy petition.

SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami said that Rajoana ended his hunger strike on Friday after he was assured of the decision on his mercy petition by December 31. He said that the issue would be taken up with Union government.

He added that if the Centre did not decide on the mercy plea, it should be ready for the repercussions.

“Rajoana said he won’t wait longer for a decision on his mercy petition. He said he should be hanged or his death sentence should be commuted to life imprisonment at the earliest,” Dhami said.

Kamaldeep Kaur urged the government to decide on the mercy petition by December 31 or withdraw it.

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