Chandigarh, October 2, 2019 (Yes Punjab News)
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today said commutation of the death sentence of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana into life term was part of a process aimed at bringing a closure to the festering wounds of the Sikh community and termed efforts to stall this humanitarian gesture as unfortunate, misconceived and against the spirit of peace and reconciliation.
In a statement here, former minister Maheshinder Singh Grewal said it was unfortunate that instead of showing tolerance and compassion towards Bhai Rajoana as well as the sentiments of Sri Akal Takth and the Sikh Sangat, an attempt was being made by certain Congress leaders to recreate tension and fissures in civil society by opposing the move in the court of law.
“The SAD is against such naked attempts aimed at striking at the core of peace and communal harmomy and will provide all needed legal aid to the family of Bhai Rajoana to fight these insidious designs to reverse the humane relief given to Bhai Rajoana”.
The Akali leader said the SAD and SGPC had always opposed the death penalty on a matter of principle and continued to do so. “We have waged a long struggle to create consensus on this issue and this included approaching the Union government and well as the President of India on several occasions under the leadership of S Parkash Singh Badal.
The decision to release eight Sikh prisoners who had already their full term and commute the death sentence of Bhai Rajoana into life-imprisonment is a direct fall out of the concerted efforts of the SAD and SGPC on this issue”.
Stating that the SAD had always adopted a humane approach towards this issue, Mr Grewal reminded a Congress leader who is opposing commutation of the death penalty of Bhai Rajoana that he was part of the Vidhan Sabha when the House moved a resolution appealing to the centre to commute the death sentence into life-imprisonment.
“Sadly it seems the same political motives which had earlier spoiled the peace of Punjab are coming to the forefront again and Congressmen are bent to go on a path of confrontation to suit their petty political interests as was seen by the double speak of chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on this sensitive issue”.
Urging all political parties and leaders to see the larger picture and break from the bitterness of the past and make a fresh start, Mr Grewal said “we owe this to the victims of State sponsored terror during the government of former chief minister Beant Singh.
Who can forget the excesses committed against innocents during this time at the hand of State agencies that resorted to indiscriminate killings of Sikh youth besides indulging in rape and pillage.
For these victims the release of the eight Sikh prisoners as well as the relief given to Bhai Rajaona serves the purpose of applying a balm on their aggrieved psyche”.
Mr Grewal said in keeping with the spirit of removing the hurts of the past, the Union government should release all other pending Sikh prisoners who were still languishing in jail after serving their full sentences.
“The Punjab government should do likewise for prisoners languishing in State jails”, he said adding this stand was cornerstone of the SAD’s polity. He said the Sikh Sangat also stood for unilateral release of all such prisoners without resorting to any pick and choose policy.
“The SAD is even in favour of release of all prisoners across the country who have fulfilled the criterion of having served their full term”, he said adding this would be a fitting tribute to the cause of humanity on the 550th Parkash Purb of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji.