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Cong slams govt over death sentence commutation of convict in Beant Singh assassination

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Congress on Monday lashed out at the government over the decision to commute the death sentence of terrorist Balwant Singh Rajoana in the assassination case of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, saying it has exposed the BJP's "false patriotism".
Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala termed the development as "painful and shameful" even as Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he is personally against capital punishment, taking a divergent view from his party.
The Home Ministry has decided to commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who was convicted for the assassination of Congress leader Beant Singh in 1995, to life imprisonment, officials said on Sunday.
Taking a swipe at the Modi government's slogan 'sabka saath, sabka vikas' (together with all, for the development of all), Surjewala said the new slogan is "together with terrorists, for development of terrorists".
He said it was the saddest day for the country in the fight against extremism.
"BJP's false patriotism exposed! It is now with the killers of Sardar Beant Singh," he said in a tweet in Hindi.
However, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh told reporters in Ludhiana he was personally against death penalty, which he had said back in 2012 too.
At a press conference, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi alleged that the Home Ministry's decision was an example of the BJP playing politics as its ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee had file a mercy petition for Rajoana.
"Beant Singh was the sitting chief minister in a constitutional post, in a democratic system and was assassinated by a suicide bomber who died on the spot, not only killing the CM, but 16 other innocent persons many of them police personnel," he said.
"The principal person accused was Balwant Singh Rajoana. Rajoana suffered a death sentence conviction in August 2007. While in High Court it was upheld in October 2010 I am talking only of Rajoana and the execution by hanging was delayed because the SGPC and the SAD the (then) ruling party of Punjab filed a mercy petition," Singhvi said.
They campaigned in the election on Rajoana's mercy petition which was referred by the then President to the Home Ministry as is the rule, he said.
The Home Ministry after all this gap announces that it is commuting Rajoana's death sentence to life imprisonment, Singhvi said.
"Remember, here is a heinous offence against a constitutional post holder... here is a party which ignores the loss of 16 other lives. So I ask them through you as to what is this new very cheap definition of pure politics. I ask them what is their commitment to basic values and principles," he said.

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First Published: Sep 30 2019 | 10:25 PM IST

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