Hang Beant killer as scheduled, rules court; govt to challenge

A Chandigarh court today ordered that Balwant Singh Rajoana, the death row convict in the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, be hanged as scheduled on March 31, a verdict which is to be challenged by the Punjab government.

As the ruling Akali leadership pushed for clemency for the Babbar Khalsa International militant, Additional District and Sessions Judge Shalini Singh Nagpal returned the court order for execution of Rajoana in the killing of Beant Singh in 1995 after rejecting the petition of Superintendent of Patiala Central Jail seeking deferment of his hanging.

“The execution order is returned for compliance,” the judge said in a brief order pronounced in the open court. The death warrant should be executed as directed earlier, the court observed during the proceedings which lasted around three minutes.

Shortly after the order was pronounced, Punjab’s Additional Advocate General Anoopinder Singh Grewal said, “We will approach the high court as soon as we get the (sessions) court order.”

Rajoana himself snubbed the Akali leadership asking them not to save him from the gallows, claiming they were pushing for a pardon out of fear of losing support of Sikhs.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday said he would meet President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking their intervention to grant pardon for Rajoana.

Punjab police and paramilitary forces conducted flag marches across the state apprehending violence if the execution of Rajoana is carried out.

Various Sikh organisations have given a bandh call in Punjab tomorrow in view of the expected hanging of Rajoana, who has neither challenged his conviction nor filed any mercy petition.

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