—After getting input from over two hundred and fifty Sikh organizations and individuals at Sri Akal Takht Sahib today, government appointed Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, along with four other Singh Sahibs, issued an edict aimed at the likes of Parkash Badal, Sukhbir Badal, and Avtar Makkar (President, SGPC) commanding them to arrange a meeting with the President of India and all other authorities seeking a stay of execution for Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana. The Jathedar especially asked that the President of India be acquainted with the reasons behind the execution of Beant “Singh” and his tyranny against the Sikh community in the 1990’s.
The edict has come after Giani Gurbachan Singh was requested by Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana to not ask him to file an appeal. Giani Gurbachan Singh asked the Punjab Chief Minister to do everything within reach to get a stay on the death sentence. While announcing Akal Takht Sahib’s decision, Giani Gurbachan Singh also bestowed the title of “Quami Shaheed” (Sikh Martyr) to Bhai Dilawar Singh Babbar and “Jinda Shaheed” (Living Martyr) to Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana.
In addition, the issued edict raises the following points:
- Seek the unconditional release of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana from jail
- Appeal to the Supreme Court of India to abolish the death penalty all together
- All Sikhs should adorn kesri (bright yellow) dastars, duppatas, and turbans and fly the Sikh standard (Nishan Sahib) outside their houses on March 28th to show opposition to India’s atrocities against Sikhs
- Sikh Sangat should join in prayers for the chardi kala of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana on the same day
Although the appointed Jathedar’s recognition of Bhai Dilawar Singh Babbar was welcomed by all Sikh organizations, many expressed grief over his decision to seek a reprieve for Bhai Rajoana. The Dal Khalsa coined the edict by the Jathedar as surrendering before the Indian law. Such a decision would be against Bhai Rajoana’s wishes, who has expressed no faith in Indian Justice and requested to be executed, as per the court directives. Dal Khalsa expressed grief that the Akal Takht has not honoured the request of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana.
The Jathedars failed to take into consideration an appeal by Sikh Sangat to name Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana as Jathedar of Akal Takht Sahib. This request has been made by representatives of various Sikh organizations over time and for other gursikhs such as Babbar Khalsa Jathedar Bhai Jagtar Singh Hawara and even Prof. Davidnerpal Singh Bhullar, but to date no discussion has taken place on this topic, most likely because Jathedars have been picked by the SGPC in conjunction with government organizations for the past decade or more, rather than by Sarbat Khalsa as mandated by Panthik norms.
Along with several other Sikh organizations, a total “bandh” of Punjab (state wide general strike) was declared for March 28th. Three different processions will take place from Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib and Anandpur Sahib and march towards the Patiala Jail. Today the entire Sikh Panth is united in seeking the release of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana and it should be kept in mind that many other Sikhs have been held illegally throughout jails in India. Bhai Davinderpal Singh Bhullar has faced immense torture at the hands of Indian Police and is facing the death penalty still, just like Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana.