Dal Khalsa seeks UN help to abolish death penalty
Express news service
Sikh organisation Dal Khalsa on Thursday said it has sought intervention of United Nations in persuading India to join the ranks of countries which have abolished the death penalty.
The European chapter of the radical Sikh organisation knocked at the doors of the UN and submitted a memorandum urging the world body to influence India to continue its undeclared moratorium and work toward abolishing death penalty, said Kanwar Pal Singh spokesperson of the group.
The group’s disclosure comes close on the heels of a stay on hanging of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who is on death row for killing of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.
On March 28, the Centre stayed hanging of Rajoana following a mercy plea.
“We have taken a cue from UN resolution passed on September 20, 2010 appealing all nations to observe a moratorium on the death penalty if they are not agreeable to passing a legislation abolishing it, he said.
“Our representatives have urged UN to influence the world’s largest democracy to dismantle the gallows forever,” Singh told media here.
Recently a three-member delegation, led by party’s secretary for human rights Prithpal Singh Khalsa met Safir Syed, officer in the Civil Society Section of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, and submitted a memorandum expressing their opposition to capital punishment in principle.
The memorandum states that petitions of more than 33 persons on the death row are pending for review with the President of India. It further states that, India has not sentenced to death anyone since 2004, though the courts have been giving out death penalty punishments in supposedly “rarest of the rare cases.”
To hammer home its point, the Dal Khalsa has given an example of reign of Maharaj Ranjit Singh. “The Sikh ruler during his 40 year rule of the Sarkar-e-Khalsa (1799-1839), did not execute any one, including the person who attempted to murder the Maharaja. The Sikh ethical approach of compassion, forgiveness and scope for reformation of one’s life is a prerequisite for progressive modern civil society.”
Stating that the Indian government has stayed the hanging of Babbar Khalsa militant Balwant Singh Rajoana, an accused in the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, for the time being, the letter “asked the UN officials to act fast as life hangs by the cliff for many, including Rajoana, on the death row in Indian prisons.”