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Rajoana move gives hope to other convicts on death row 

Patiala/muktsar, September 30

The Centre’s decision to commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for the assassination of former CM Beant Singh, to life term has given a ray of hope to at least 12 convicts who have been awarded capital punishment and are lodged in jails for the past over a decade.

Their execution has been delayed due to pending applications at various stages. A few of these cases were so gruesome that they had hogged national headlines. However, the Centre’s decision has given a ray of hope to these criminals, who expect that they might also have a chance despite their cases are not political, but cold-blooded murders.

“Since Sunday, most of the convicts on death row are eager to know about Rajoana’s case and demanded newspapers from the jail library in the morning,” said an insider. “There have been discussions and the convicts were seen asking our staff that on what pretext Rajoana managed to get his death sentence commuted to life term,” said a top official.

 

One such case is of kidnapping and murder in which mercy pleas of Vikram Singh and Jasbir Singh, are pending in the President’s office. In September 2012, the Hoshiarpur court had directed the Patiala jail superintendent to make necessary preparations to 

execute the death warrants of Vikram and Jasvir after the duo, along with their woman accomplice, abducted and later killed 16-year old DAV School student Abhi Verma, a goldsmith’s son, for ransom in February 2005. The Supreme Court in July 2017 dismissed their review petition, while their mercy pleas are pending with the President.

Another case is of Khushwinder Singh (45) of Suhavi village in Fatehgarh Sahib, whose death sentence was upheld by the SC in a 2012 murder case. He had hoodwinked even the CBI in a previous case involving the killing of four of a family by pushing them into a canal in 2004. Both cases were unravelled by the Punjab Police and are now part of the curriculum of the IPS and PPS trainee officers.

Meanwhile, the Centre’s decision on Rajoana has raised the hopes of some more families of Sikh prisoners. They have started approaching SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal seeking clemency for their kin.

For instance, the family of Khalistan Liberation Front terrorist Daya Singh Lahoria today met Sukhbir at Badal village and appealed to him to request the Centre to grant clemency to him. They said Lahoria had spent 24 years in jail and the court had said he could be released even after completion of 20 years in jail.

Lahoria, 56, was awarded life term by a Jaipur court in 2004 for kidnapping the son of Rajasthan Congress leader Ram Niwas Mirdha

The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court. The KLF wanted to pressure the then PMNarasimha Rao to release 1993 Delhi blast convict Devinderpal Singh Bhullar.

Sources said more families of Sikh prisoners were likely to meet Sukhbir in the coming days.

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