SAD leaders Majithia, Valtoha not allowed to meet Rajoana in Patiala jail - Hindustan Times
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SAD leaders Majithia, Valtoha not allowed to meet Rajoana in Patiala jail

Dec 04, 2023 03:54 PM IST

Akali leaders claim permission from ADGP to meet death row convict, but jail superintendent says Majithia was informed over phone about approval being denied

A day after the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) appealed to Balwant Singh Rajoana, a death row convict in former Punjab CM Beant Singh’s assassination case, not to go on a hunger strike to seek withdrawal of his mercy petition filed by the apex religious body of Sikhs, a Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) delegation, comprising Bikram Singh Majithia and Virsa Singh Valtoha, was not allowed to meet him in Patiala Central Jail on Monday.

Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia talking to officials outside the Central Jail, Patiala, on Monday after he was denied permission to meet death row convict Balwant Singh Rajoana. (HT Photo)
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia talking to officials outside the Central Jail, Patiala, on Monday after he was denied permission to meet death row convict Balwant Singh Rajoana. (HT Photo)

Also read: Won’t withdraw Rajoana mercy petition, says SGPC

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The Akali leaders claimed they had permission from the additional director general of police (ADGP, Jails), but the prison authorities did not allow them to meet Rajoana. “The ADGP had permitted us to meet Rajoana. Now, the jail superintendent is denying it. This attitude has to change. Gangsters are giving interviews from inside the jail, but we are not allowed to meet Rajoana.”

Majithia said he wanted to urge Rajoana not to go on hunger strike from Tuesday. “I want to appeal Bhai Sahab (Rajoana) not to go hunger strike. He should cancel his call for hunger strike,” he said.

Rajaona had conveyed SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami that he would start the hunger strike on December 5 if his petition was not withdrawn by December 4. Rajoana had written to the Akal Takht Jathedar to direct the SGPC to withdraw the mercy petition it had filed in 2012 to the President on his behalf. However, the SGPC chief said after an executive committee meeting on Sunday that the mercy plea had been filed keeping in view “Panthic” sentiments and it was not in the interest of the community to withdraw it. The SGPC has been seeking the release of several Sikh prisoners, including Rajoana and Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, who is a 1993 Delhi bomb blast convict.

After the Akali leaders levelled allegations against the jail authorities, the Patiala jail superintendent issued a press statement saying permission was denied telephonically. “After a thorough examination of the application as per the Punjab Prison Rules, 2022, it was decided not allow both public figures to meet the prisoners in Central Jail Patiala,” he said.

The jail superintendent said that Majithia was told verbally on phone about the denial of permission on December 2. Therefore, the allegations that both the leaders were denied permission to meet Rajoana at the last moment is incorrect, he said.

A representative of Shiromani Akali Dal presented an application on November 30 in the office of ADGP, Prisons, seeking approval for Majithia and Valtoha to meet Rajoana on any day before December 5. On December 1, the application was sent by the prisons headquarters, Chandigarh, to the office of the superintendent, Central Jail, Patiala, to arrange a meeting as per the law as the jail superintendent is the competent authority to decide on such matters.

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