Akal Takht asks Rajoana to end hunger strike, forms panel to talk to Centre
After meeting Sikh clergy, Jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh asks Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to review its decision not to withdraw the mercy petition if the Centre does not commute convict’s death sentence till December 31
The Akal Takht on Wednesday directed Balwant Singh Rajoana, the death row convict in former chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination case, to end his hunger strike in Patiala jail and sought 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.
A day after Rajoana started the hunger strike, an emergency meeting of the Panj Singh Sahiban or five Sikh clergymen, headed by Akal Takht jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh, was held at the highest Sikh temporal seat to discuss the matter. Takht Damdama Sahib jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, Takht Kesgarh Sahib jathedar Giani Sultan Singh, Takht Patna Sahib additional head granthi Giani Gurdial Singh and Darbar Sahib granthi Giani Baljit Singh attended the meeting.
After discussing the letters sent by Rajoana, the Sikh clergy said in their decree, “Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana is a zinda shaheed (living martyr) of the qaum (community), who made great sacrifice with bravery, determination, gallantry and fearlessness facing the atrocities and excesses committed by the governments with Sikhs. So, the qaum is proud of him. The entire community prays for his chardi kala (high spirits). His life is precious for the qaum and its assets. So, he is ordered by Panj Singh Sahiban not to harm his health in any way. He should take care of his health by ending the hunger strike with immediate effect.”
The Sikh clergy also formed a five-member committee to take up the matter with the Centre to ensure the implementation of the notification issued by the government on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak for releasing Sikh prisoners and commuting Rajoana’s sentence.
SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami will head the panel that includes Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Harmeet Singh Kalka, Ajit Group of Publications editor-in-chief Barjinder Singh Hamdard, Rajoana’s sister Kamaldeep Kaur Rajoana and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Virsa Singh Valtoha.
“If the Centre does not commute the death sentence of Rajoana by December 31 this year, the SGPC is directed to review its decision of not withdrawing the mercy petition considering the letters sent by him repeatedly to the Takht,” said the Sikh clergy, adding, “If the central government does not decide in the given time with sincerity, only it will be responsible for the situation that emerges as its fallout.”