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Parties play politics over clemency plea
Published on 30 May. 2011 1:47 AM IST
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: Politics seems to be brewing over the death sentence of Punjab militant Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar. After Bhullar’s plea for clemency was rejected last week by President Pratibha Patil, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Sunday rushed to his rescue, seeking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s “intervention on humanitarian grounds” to save him from the gallows.
SAD, a part of the ruling combine in Punjab, urged the Prime Minister to take a sympathetic view on the matter.
“We want it to be reviewed again...if the issue pertains to some community or emotions of the people related to them, these sentiments should not be ignored, they should move forward by looking at its practicality”, said Prem Singh Chandumajra, General Secretary, SAD.
But, SAD’s ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) didn’t quite echo the same sentiment. Skirting the Bhullar issue, the party instead, again called for Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru’s hanging.
“Afzal Guru has been tried and convicted for attacking Parliament, the seat of our sovereignty, where our elected representatives sit. Can anyone change the position on that? Our position on Afzal Guru is very clear and there cannot be a second thought”, said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Seetharaman.
But, the SAD found support form an unusual quarter. The Congress unit in the state also supported clemency for Bhullar. “I don’t know what the Akalis have said. I can only tell you what I feel. I feel killing a man is not going to solve the problem. By killing a man you can’t solve the problem...He has spent 10 years in jail. Give him life imprisonment. Let him stay there forever”, former Punjab chief minister and president of Punjab Congress Amarinder Singh said.
Refusing to be drawn into the debate, the central leadership of the Congress gave a guarded response.
Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP leader and Punjab Minister, said those who have committed the crime should be punished. “They should get what they deserve. If they have killed anyone, they should be punished accordingly and as soon as possible.
“As a political party, the Congress doesn’t believe in interfering in or commenting upon the constitutional process of clemency, whether in favour or against it,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.
The flurry of political statements comes in the backdrop of the President turning down on May 26, the mercy petition of Bhullar, who was associated with the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF).
Bhullar was sentenced to death by a trial court on August 25, 2001, for plotting terror attacks on Punjab SSP Sumedh Singh Saini in 1991 and the then Youth Congress president MS Bitta in 1993, which led to several deaths in Delhi.
A couple of days ago, Bhullar’s advocate K T S Tulsi had urged in the Supreme Court that either his mercy petition should be decided expeditiously or alternatively his death sentence be commuted.Various Sikh organisations including the Dal Khalsa have petitioned the President for commuting the death sentence into life term.

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