Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Source: Times of India timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Why-Balwant-Singh-Rajoana-never-appealed-against-his-death-sentence/articleshow/12458451.cms

Balwant Singh Rajoana was to be executed on March 31. This would have been the first execution in India since 2004. His execution has been stayed - for the time being - in response to the rising whirlpool of politics that's engulfed Punjab on this issue. That India should sully its record again after 8 years with state sanctioned murder is a matter of distress, but this consideration seems largely removed from the politics of Rajoana's execution. However even in addition to principled opposition to the death penalty, the cynical considerations swirling around his execution, the specifics of the case itself are significant.

Opposition to capital punishment is removed from the specifics of the case, basing the argument on human rights, the range and extent of power given to the State, citizen's right to equality before law, the inherent arbitrariness in the exercise of power by individual state functionaries, and irrevocability of the punishment especially given the possibility of wrongful conviction. In contrast, the proponents of capital punishment argue on the specifics, seeking justification in the heinousness of the crime, recidivism, retribution, and deterrence. In this the proponents are almost vigilante in their perspective, with their preoccupation with punishment for the alleged lawbreaker than the state, its powers and processes, and civil liberties

Nevertheless in this instance, the specifics too raise some disturbing questions. Balwant Singh is on death row for his role in the suicide bombing of the former Chief Minister of Punjab, Beant Singh in 1995. 17 persons, including the Chief Minister were killed. The history has some relevance. Punjab had been racked by insurgency since the seventies, with the regional autonomy movement progressively hardening into a secessionist movement over the decades. President's Rule was established in 1987 in the aftermath of Operation Bluestar and the Sikh pogrom in Delhi in 1984. After five years of President Rule checkered by militancy and heavy police crackdown, elections were called in 1992, but were postponed twice. Protesting that the elections were unlikely to be "free and fair", the Sikh parties boycotted the elections. With voter turnout in the low twenties, Beant Singh's ascendancy was widely disparaged by the Sikhs as lacking legitimacy. Militancy and consequent police clampdown continued unabated. Beant Singh was assassinated in 1995 by suicide bomber Dilawar Singh, aided by Balwant Singh and others.

During trial, Balwant Singh refused counsel, asking instead to be allowed to represent himself. He did not cross-examine witnesses. He was awarded the death penalty. In 2009, when his death sentence came for conviction in the High Court [as part of the legal process], he again refused counsel and asked to be allowed to argue his own case. His intent in each instance was not to seek acquittal. In the 14 years that the case made its way from the trial court to the High Court, Balwant Singh held to his story, claiming that he strapped the bomb on to the body of Dilawar Singh. The High Court, noting that there was no evidence in favour of Balwant Singh in order to "have a second thought on the murder reference of Balwant Singh, coupled with his three confessional statements, there is no other alternate with us but to confirm" the death penalty. Balwant also refused to appeal against the death penalty administratively through mercy petition to the Governor and/or President. In a letter to the Chief Justice of the High Court, he writes, "legal system, judicial system of this Country and the rulers of this Country have been discriminating" [and that] "slavery of such system is not acceptable to me". In embracing 17 years of imprisonment including solitary confinement and ultimate execution, Balwant Singh is making a political statement.

In his letter and statements, he brings out his search for justice in the democratic framework, his feeling of marginalization and his desire for rebellion. He sees the injustice of the swiftness of response when a five star hotel in Mumbai is under siege and the dilatory tactics of commissioning enquiry committees without any accountability for the thousands who perished in the 1984 Sikh pogrom. He writes, "thousands of Sikhs were massacred. It is submitted that these murderers have neither been punished nor been punished by any Court of law of the country even after 25 years [...] Here I would like to ask your Lordship that the persons who have killed thousands of innocent xxxx, xxxx, and xxxx [redacted] are not the terrorists. Why not the law of the nation, [redacted] try to interfere in the matter. On the contrary, when the hotels of Mumbai are attacked then the military of the country immediately interferes. The commandos of Delhi initiate immediate action after reaching Delhi. This is made to known as to which in which village the assailants reside in [redacted]. Contrary to it, the [redacted] of [redacted] of people in Delhi could not be identified. How the security can be assured without the law when everybody knows the killers" [sic]. He locates the justification for the suicide bombing in this persecution by the state (as per his contention) and the lack of accountability saying in a statement to the District and Sessions Judge, Patiala, "conscience of a person have self respect refuses to accept the authority of callous rulers. Such feels instigate a person for becoming human bomb rather than to become a human being [sic]"

The purpose of this article is not to romanticize Balwant Singh or terrorism. But surely some introspection is required when an obviously bright individual seeks political expression in the rejection of the "democratic" government itself even at the cost of his own life? Our democratic systems are discriminating - on class, caste, and religious lines. After 64 years of democracy, which by definition means people's control over the state to ensure propagation of their interests, more than 3 quarters of our country still ekes out a living on just Rs 20 per day. In our ostensibly secular state, all significant minorities have been persecuted (1984, 1992, 2002, 2008) without any accountability. Likewise the constitutional promise of equality before rule of law is flouted routinely. The poor are routinely displaced, their rights violated, their very being often declared illegal. The poor overwhelmingly populate our jails; around 70% are under-trials, not convicts. The death penalty too is disproportionately administered to the poor. Balwant Singh's execution is now embroiled in cynical politics from all sides, however whatever the outcome, we all share some blame in perpetuation of a system where meaningful political expression, redress and justice is denied to all but a small minority.

(Ruchi Gupta works in a think tank in Delhi. The views expressed are her own.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt

This is why Balwant Singh is a soorma. He did it, got caught and makes no apologies for his actions. He has told no lies to the judge. He is so proud of what he did, how could a lion like him plead for his life, and that to the judiciary of a chauvinist power, that brutalises minorities.

ps the redacted names, are jagdish tytler, sajjan kumar and ive forgot the third.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  



  • Topics

  • Posts

    • This is sad. Most recent punjabis in countries like Italy and Dubai etc already come from really poor families. A lot of the really poor people cant afford sending their kids to countries like Canada, UK etc so send them to places like Dubaiz Italy it costs less etc     most of us here in the uk and Canada come from middle class or upper middle class families   yet they still greedy   Why cant the punjabis who are well established in italy help these guys out?  And what about the bad treatment of punjabis by other punjabis in the uk? Making them live it tight cramped rooms and rubbish conditions and then making them pay high rent? Cheap labour, This punjabi lady why owns a sweet shop in our town was paying her punjabi workers £2 an hour. There are punjabi brothels in the punjabi areas in the uk.   
    • This isn't new news.  Personally I think until Panjab gets itself straightened out (despite all the ill will -  internal and external) we're only going to see more of this type of stuff.
    • I used to try and raise my children the way my parents raised me and my siblings, I was failing miserably, I was given a reality check by my mother when I was complaining to her (one of many times) about my children's behavior, she reminded me that the way they raised is was appropriate for that time and that method isn't going to work today, there's no right way of raising your children, you do what you think is best for them, you promise yourself you won't make the mistakes your parent's made with you (in your opinion that is). You don't sound like a bad parent, your son doesn't sound like a bad child but sometimes our circumstances change which put us in situations that end up like yours, you've tried your level best and left the ball in his court so now it's up to him, as long as you've told him that the door is always open you have done the right thing. If you have other children I would concentrate on them and make sure this whole thing isn't affecting them to a point where it becomes an issue.
    • Is this how we want our bretheren to live ? https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/fruit-pickers-fight-back-at-italian-mafia-slave-farms-pznnhrfzq?fbclid=IwAR2PTrOQhMmEFpwOiWppvZ4hbQkq16zKKr0Gl2k8kJGkbRuMPwOle5y2E38
    • they are the ones who started the little metal kirpan on the kangha , maybe somebody should explain to them you cannot do ifazat of anyone with your kanga...
×

Important Information

Terms of Use