Petitions in support of overturning the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana have appeared on the web with increasing frequency over the past few weeks. If like me, you have seen them and wonder who he is and what is going on, here are five important facts about the death sentence of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana that I have found to share:
1) Balwant Singh is sentenced to be executed by hanging at 9 am on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at Patalia Central Jail of Patalia India. No other case of capital punishment has occurred in Punjab for 24 years.
2) 1995, August - Balwant Singh Rajoana, a Punjab policeman, witnesses atrocities against Sikhs and cover ups by police. Balwant Singh acts with Delawar Singh and Jagtar Singh Hawara to assassinate Chief Minister of Panjab considered by Sikhs to be responsible for the harassment and murder of thousands of innocent Sikhs while he held office from 1192 - 1995 following the 1984 Golden Temple invasion and assassination of Indira Gandhi and ensuing unrest in Punjab. Delawar Singh succeeds in slaying Beant Singh with an explosive devise attached to his body which also kills him.
3) 2007, July - Balwant Singh and Jagtar Singh are found guilty of aiding Delawar Singh and sentenced to death by special CBI court in Chandigarh, India. Jagtar Singh appeals and his sentence is reduced to life imprisonment by the Harynan High court of Punjab, India. Balwant Singh declines an appeal professing lack of faith in India's justice system.
4) 2012, March - Thousands of Sikhs around the world rally in support of Balwant Singh Rojoana petitioning that his sentence be commuted to Life in Prison. UK Sikhs appeal to their Foreign Secretary to contact Amnesty International and the Houses of Common. NGO, Lawyers for Human Rights International, file an appeal to the Supreme Court on behalf of Balwant Singh Rajoana. Sikh parliament Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) petitions President Pratibha Patil citing 11 similar cases. Akal Takhat proclaims Balwant Singh Rajoana to be a "Zinda Shaheed," or living martyr, a title which Balwant Singh rejects.
5) 2012, March - Balwant Singh writes a letter from prison attacking the Punjab Government for trying to save him and in an attempt to mollify emotionally charged current and accusing the Akali Dal party as "cheaters" lax in pursuing justice for Sikhs killed in the 1984 Delhi Massacre. Patalia Jail officials tell court the hanging cannot proceed due to irregularities as appeals are pending. Chandighar Court issues orders for the execution to be conducted according to schedule. Punjab enforces ordinance banning assembly of more than five people as execution date approaches. India suffers a media blackout concerning the issue of Balwant Singh Rajoana. There has never been justice for thousands of Sikhs murdered by Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler, Beant Singh and others whose cases have never come to trial, or have been dismissed as outdated.