The Shiromani Akali Dal on Wednesday said the commutation of death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana to life term was part of a process aimed at bringing to closure the festering wounds of the Sikh community and termed efforts to stall this humanitarian gesture “unfortunate”.Former Minister and Akali leader Maheshinder Singh Grewal said it was unfortunate than an attempt was being made by certain Congress leaders to recreate tension by opposing the move in the court of law. “The SAD is against such attempts aimed at striking at the core of peace and communal harmony and will provide all needed legal aid to the family of Rajoana to fight these insidious designs to reverse the humane relief granted to him,” said Mr. Grewal.‘Release Sikh prisoners’He said the Union government should release all other Sikh prisoners who are still languishing in jail after serving their full sentences. “The Punjab government should do likewise for prisoners languishing in State jails,” he said.Mr. Grewal said the Akali Dal and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) have always opposed the death penalty as a matter of principle and continue to do so.“We have waged a long struggle to create consensus on this issue and this included approaching the Union government and the President on several occasions under the leadership of Parkash Singh Badal,” he said.The decision to release eight Sikh prisoners who had already completed their sentence and the commutation of Rajoana’s death sentence were the fallout of the concerted efforts of the Akali Dal and the SGPC, Mr. Grewal claimed.He said the Congress leader opposing the commutation of the death penalty was part of the Vidhan Sabha when the House moved a resolution appealing to the Centre in this regard.The statement came a day after Gurkirat Singh Kotli, a Punjab MLA and grandson of slain former Chief Minister Beant Singh, said his family would move the Supreme Court against the Centre’s decision to commute the death sentence of Rajoana.Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, who too is a grandson of the slain leader, also criticised the Centre’s decision. “How is a terrorist of Kashmir different from a terrorist of Punjab? How can Rajoana who hasn’t applied for pardon himself, doesn’t believe in the law of land and wants to spread terror repeatedly be released by Modi Govt? Dual Face of Modi,” Mr. Bittu had tweeted. (With PTI inputs)
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