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Centre stays Rajoana's death sentence

New Delhi, Wed, 28 Mar 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Mar 28 (ANI): The Centre on Wednesday stayed the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, a co-accused in the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.

At a press conference after meeting President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Siromani Akali Dal leader and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal read out the home ministry letter, which accepted the mercy petition filed by Siromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) to grant clemency to Rajoana.

"This letter written by home ministry, Government of India to the principal secretary, government of Punjab in reference to our letter seeking clemency it was informed to us.....on the matter of mercy petition filed by SGPC under article 72 of the Constitution of India for grant of clemency to Balwant Singh Rajoana.

"As per procedure regarding petition for mercy in death sentence cases, the execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana has been stayed, till the order of the Supreme Court in the matter of criminal appeal in so so case or till the order of the President of India in the said matter, which ever is later," Badal told reporters here.

Controversy over the death sentence of Rajoana had created a huge uproar in Punjab as Rajoana supporters demanded not to revoke the sentence as they wanted Rajoana to die a death of a martyr.

Rajoana had earlier, in a letter from inside the Patiala Jail, said that he did not need any help from blue-turbaned Akali leaders, who had not done anything to secure justice for Sikhs.

Rajoana was to be executed on March 31 at the Central Jail in Patiala.

Beant Singh was assassinated in a car bomb on August 31, 1995 in Chandigarh. Eleven other persons, including three members of his security staff, were also killed.

A separatist group, Babbar Khalsa, had then claimed responsibility for the assassination, but authorities expressed apprehension over their claim.

Beant Singh was lauded for restoring peace in Punjab in 1992 after suppressing separatist groups and their activities. (ANI)

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