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Balwant Rajoana goes on hunger strike in Patiala jail as SGPC turns down his request to withdraw mercy plea

Beant Singh assassin Balwant Singh Rajoana on Tuesday began a hunger strike at Central Jail here after the SGPC executive turned down his request to withdraw the mercy plea filed by the Sikh body on his behalf.

Last week, Rajoana had threatened to proceed on hunger strike on December 5 as he had asked the SGPC to withdraw the petition. 

The SGPC had appealed to Rajoana not to go on hunger strike.

Sources say Rajoana skipped the morning tea and breakfast and is adamant not to break the hunger strike.

Rajoana’s adopted sister Kamaldeep Kaur is expected to meet him in the jail in the afternoon.

On Monday, the Shiromani Akali Dal locked horns with the state Prisons Department, alleging that the latter was circumventing rules and “working at the behest of the CM”, after its two-member delegation was not allowed to meet Rajoana. The delegation wanted to dissuade Rajoana from going on hunger strike. However, they were not allowed to meet him, as jail authorities cited technical reasons. 

In May, the Supreme Court had refused to commute Rajoana’s death sentence to life imprisonment and asked the Centre to take a decision on his mercy plea.

The SGPC had filed a petition on behalf of Rajoana seeking the commutation of his death penalty on the grounds that the Centre had failed to take a decision on his March 25, 2012, plea till date. 

Convicted of assassinating Beant Singh in 1995, Rajoana has been in jail for more than 27 years, awaiting his execution. The former Punjab chief minister and 16 others were killed in an explosion outside the Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh in 1995. He was sentenced to death in 2007 by a special court. His mercy petition has been hanging fire for more than 11 years.


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