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SGPC to call meeting of ‘Panthic’ parties on Balwant Singh Rajoana issue

The SGPC Thursday said it has decided to call a meeting of representatives of the ‘Panthic’ parties to discuss the issue of Balwant Singh Rajoana, a death row convict in former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination case.

A decision in this regard was taken days after Rajoana wrote to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), seeking withdrawal of a mercy petition. He had also threatened to go on a hunger strike from December 5 if the petition was not withdrawn.

In 2012, the mercy petition was filed by the SGPC to the President in Rajoana’s death sentence.

Rajoana, the convict in the 1995 Beant Singh assassination case, is currently lodged in the Patiala central jail.

The SGPC has been seeking the release of several Sikh prisoners, including Rajoana and Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, a 1993 Delhi bomb blast convict.

In the special meeting of the SGPC executive held on Thursday, Rajoana’s letter was discussed for about three hours.

Speaking to reporters, SGPC president H S Dhami said that in the letter sent by Rajoana, he had asked the SGPC to withdraw its mercy petition filed for him and also mentioned about starting a hunger strike from December 5.

He said this matter is very serious, on which a decision can be taken only according to the “common opinion” after knowing the views of the ‘Panthic’ representatives.

He said it will be premature for the SGPC to take any decision on this petition on its own. Therefore, the executive has decided that it is necessary to take the views of various ‘Panthic’ parties (which represent the Sikh community), in view of which a meeting will be held with the ‘Panthic’ representatives on December 2, added Dhami.

In this meeting, ‘Panthic’ representatives from the 11-member committee formed earlier on the issue of Sikh prisoners, on the directions of the Akal Takht, will be invited besides some more representatives.

After this, the SGPC will again convene its executive meeting so that a concrete decision can be taken according to the ‘Panthic’ sentiments, he further said.

The SGPC president criticised the Government of India over its “negative” approach in the case of Rajoana.

He said in 2019, the Centre had announced the commutation of the death sentence of Rajoana to life imprisonment, but it is unfortunate that the government has not implemented the decision till now.

He alleged that the governments are creating an environment of mistrust among the Sikhs, which is not in the interest of the country.

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