A day ahead of call of peaceful protests by the Akal Takht and radical Sikh organisations on March 28,Balwant Singh Rajoanas sister Kamaldeep Kaur in a press statement made an appeal to the Khalsa Panth to express their feelings peacefully in a manner desired by her brother. I appeal to the whole Khalsa Panth that like you have honoured the feelings of my brother and raised the saffron flags,you would also express your feelings in a peaceful manner as desired by my brother, Kamaldeep said. After dedicating himself to the thoughts of his martyr brothers,my brother is going to hoist the saffron mark (Kesri Nishan) on the chest of Delhi. I am proud of my brothers firm determination, she added.
Zinda Shaheed title
In a statement issued from Patiala Central Jail,Balwant Singh Rajoana on Tuesday accepted the Zinda Shaheed (living martyr) title bestowed upon him by the Akal Takht. Earlier,Balwant had made an appeal to Akal Takht to take back the title,citing that it could set a bad precedent and dilute the spirit of making sacrifices for the Panth. The five Sikh high priests had,however,decided against taking back the title from him.
In his statement,Balwant said: I would only say that I am feeling good despite losing the case in this spiritual court (the Akal Takht). He added that he had not refused to accept the title,but had only requested that the same be taken back in view of some Sikh principals. Accepting the title,Balwant said the title will make him more responsible for his mission and religion.
Trade and industry appeal for peace.
The trade and industry bodies in Punjab on Tuesday appealed to the state government to ensure peace in the wake of various Sikh organisations giving a bandh call in view of the possible execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana.
We want peace and tranquillity to be maintained tomorrow (in the wake of bandh call), former Chairman of CII (Amritsar zone) Gunbir Singh said. Though various industrial organisations refused to extend any support to the bandh call,many of them said that trade and industry will incur losses if the bandh was enforced.
It (Rajoana issue) is a political matter and we do not want to get into it. If anybody wants to shut down his unit or shop,he can do so. But we are not going to direct our fellow industrialists to support the bandh call, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertaking General Secretary Avtar Singh said.
Meanwhile,minibus operators in Jalandhar have announced that they will not ply any buses on Wednesday. Around 500 minibuses ply on various routes from Jalandhar city.
Police,forces on alert
With protest marches scheduled for March 28,security was beefed up across the state on Tuesday. Sikh organisations like Dal Khalsa,Khalsa Action Committee and Panch Pardhani have also given a call for Punjab bandh on Wednesday to register protest against the hanging of Balwant Singh Rajoana.
The Amritsar administration put in place stringent measures with deployment of police and BSF personnel on 49 places in the city,15 main entrance points and 34 sites inside Amritsar. We have requisitioned four companies of BSF,six companies of Punjab Armed Police,one company of commandos,besides pressing into action the district police force to ensure law and order, Amritsar Commissioner of Police R P Mittal said. Flag marches by the police and BSF were held at various places in holy city on Tuesday.
In Patiala,where Balwant is scheduled to be hanged on March 31 at 9 am,tight security arrangements have been made. A total of 10 BSF companies,commandos and Punjab Armed Police have been deployed at strategic points, said Patiala SSP Gurpreet Singh Gill. Heavy deployment has also been made in and around Patiala Central Jail.
Security forces have been conducting repeated flag march at places like Moga,Jalandhar and Ludhiana as well. State DGP Sumedh Singh Saini has directed the district police chiefs to take all preventive and necessary steps to maintain peace in Punjab.
HC dismisses plea
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal filed by the Khalsa Mission Committee against Balwant Singh Rajoanas death sentence. Once the sentence has been awarded by a competent court,no other court,except the court in appeal or revision,can modify the order of sentence. The relief claimed that benefit of the same sentence be given to all other accused,who have not filed appeal,is required to be raised when the appellate or the revisional jurisdiction is being exercised and not after the announcing of the sentence, the division bench ruled.