Monday, April 02, 2012
The family of a student killed during a demonstration in India are calling for a full investigation into his death.
Jaspal Singh,18, died on Thursday when police opened fire on a group of Sikhs protesting in the Punjab city of Gurdaspur.
They were demonstrating against the death penalty imposed on Balwant Singh Rajoana, who has been in prison for 17 years for the assassination of former first minister of the Punjab, Beant Singh.
Jaspal's uncle, aunt and cousins live off Melton Road, Leicester, said they were in shock.
Cousin Jatinder said: "I knew Jaspal very well. He was a hard-working and very intelligent student.
"He was the pride of his parents. He had joined the protesters in support of Balwant Singh and they were unarmed.
"Why did the police turn on them and start shooting?
"Jaspal was shot when he was chanting prayers.
"The police had no reason to open fire.
"We want a full investigation into what happened and the officer responsible suspended and put in jail pending trial.
"We also want the officer in charge to be investigated.
"As Sikhs we are opposed to the death penalty. But we want justice."
Balwant Singh Rajoana is on death row in Punjab for his role in the 1995 murder of Mr Singh, who was killed by suicide bomber Dilawar Singh.
Rajoana was convicted of acting as a back-up suicide bomber should Singh have failed.
On Wednesday, the Indian president stayed the execution order for the time being.
Rajoana had asked members of the Sikh community to wear orange or fly orange pennants and flags as a peaceful protest against the death penalty.
However, during the demonstration, a rival group took a turban from a protester and set it on fire and then the police started shooting at demonstrators.
Jatinder said his family in Leicester had heard about the killing on satellite television.
They did not know that the victim was a relative until they received a phone call from family in Punjab.
Jatinder's father Sukhdev Singh flew out to India on Friday for the funeral, which was held on Saturday. Sukhdev's wife Rajinder Kaur said: "My husband has gone out to support his sister's family during this time."
The family had visited Jaspal's relatives a year ago and Mrs Kaur's two sons knew him well.
Members of the Leicester family and the community gathered at the family home to pay their respects over the weekend.
Gurjit Singh, of the support organisation International Panthic Dal, said: "We want the Sikh community in Leicester to join in prayer to support the family and call for an inquiry into what happened to Jaspal.
"It is important that those who are responsible are dealt with by the law.
"We oppose the death penalty and want the sentence against Balwant Singh commuted."
Another student who was shot in the incident died later of his injuries.
More than 150 Sikhs from Leicester joined scores of others from around the country in a convoy from Birmingham to London last week in protest at the execution.