PUNJAB—Following a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister and witnessing heavy protests, the President of India finally took notice of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana’s execution scheduled to take place on March 31. According to sources, the execution has been put on temporary hold, until matters are further discussed. It should be noted that Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana is currently facing another trial in the Supreme Court and his execution was deemed unconstitutional from the beginning.
What course the case will take in the future is currently unknown as major fraud was unearthed by members of Lawyers for Human Rights International just days before the scheduled execution. As per their statement, the prosecution lawyer was not appointed by the CBI. According to S. Amar Singh Chahal, the conviction should now be quashed but could also result in a re-trial of the entire case.
Appointed Jathedar, Giani Gurbachan Singh welcomed the stay of execution and thanked Sangat for their support for Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana. Although the stay has come against the wishes of Rajoana, the Jathedar congratulated Sikh Sangat and once again requested Sikh Jathebandis to cancel the protest marches scheduled to take place tomorrow. Three different processions have been outlined by Sikh organisations in support for Bhai Rajoana without the support of the Akal Takht Sahib.
A total “bandh” (statewide strike) was observed in the state of Punjab as per directives of various Sikh Organisations, including the Dal Khalsa and Shiromani Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani and Amritsar). Businesses remained shut and thousands of protesters marched at various places in Punjab. Punjab witnessed over 60,000 police and army personnel deployed throughout various cities, especially in Patiala where Bhai Rajoana is currently being held. Despite the Government and Police mandate disallowing large congregations, Sikhs in large numbers protested in various cities. A large gathering of Sikhs also convened at Sri Darbar Sahib complex.
Although the protests and the bandh were peaceful, several cases of violence by police were noticed throughout Punjab. Police have arrested many community leaders, including Daljeet Singh Bittu, Simranjit Singh Mann, Harpal Singh Cheema, Jasvir Singh Kandar, and many youth. Kulwant Singh Dhesi and crew of UK based Sangat Television have also been detained by the police. Clashes between Sikh activists and Shiv Sena terrorists who interfered in the protests were also noticed.
Shiromani Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani) issued a press release asking the Sikhs to remain vigilant. According to the press release issued today, a similar stay was issued in the case of Bhai Harjinder Singh Jinda and Bhai Sukhdev Singh Sukha but it was removed by the Government of India overnight, leading to the hanging of both Sikhs on October 9, 1992 at 4 AM.