Capital punishment a relic of Raj,needs debate: Amarinder

Capt not on same page as Centre,says interest of state,party paramount as Cong chief.

Written by Sukhdeep Kaur | Chandigarh | Published: March 28, 2012 2:49:27 am

Capt not on same page as Centre,says interest of state,party paramount as Cong chief.

By joining ranks with ruling Akalis over clemency for Balwant Singh Rajoana,the state Congress has decided to go against the party’s stated view at the Centre.

A day after Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi disapproved of the attempts by the Punjab government and SGPC to seek clemency for Balwant,saying that the Assembly has no role to play in such a case and Balwant’s hanging is a culmination of the legal process,state Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh said on Tuesday that as state president,the interest of Punjab and the party was paramount for him.

“As the state president,I have to think about what is in the interest of the state and party and my statement was made in the larger interest. The whole of Punjab is on high alert as yellow (pro-Khalistan) flags are being hoisted on homes,cars,bicycles and motorbikes. Any such action can vitiate hard-earned peace of Punjab,” he said.

Describing capital punishment as a relic of British Raj days,Amarinder said that its time the country debated seriously on the issue. “My personal stand is against capital punishment. Most countries in the world have done away with it but we continue to hang people. It is high time this practice is stopped,” he said.

Though in September last year only,Amarinder had supported clemency for death row convict Devinderpal Singh Bhullar,he had described Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s attempt to bring in a resolution in the state Assembly as a political stunt ahead of SGPC polls.

Like Balwant,Bhullar too was condemned to the gallows for masterminding a 1993 car bomb attack in front of the Youth Congress office in New Delhi that killed 12 people. But unlike Balwant,he had moved the Supreme Court after his clemency plea was rejected by the President.

Interestingly,within the state Congress there have been divergent views on the matter,then and now. Former Congress Legislative Party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had then said there should be no mercy for Bhullar. On Rajoana,CLP leader Sunil Jakhar had last week stated that law should take its own course. But chorusing Amarinder’s view this week,Jakhar said in the Assembly that the party is committed to support whatever it takes to maintain peace in Punjab. “My earlier stand was law should take its own course and my present view too is a continuation of it. The chief minister is the custodian of law and order in Punjab and it is imperative that the Opposition and the government are on the same page on the issue. It is not a momentary decision but concerns long term peace in Punjab,” Jakhar said.

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