New Delhi: The Punjab government has said that it will not allow the hanging of Balwant Singh Rajoana on Saturday at a Patiala jail. Mr Rajoana was sentenced to death by a special CBI court in Chandigarh for his role in the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister, Beant Singh in 1995. Rajoana, as per a court order, is to be hanged on March 31 at Central Jail, Patiala.
Here are 10 big developments in this story:
1) Officials at the Patiala Jail had told the court they could not hang Mr Rajoana on Saturday. They pointed out that a mercy petition for Mr Rajoana, as well as another man convicted in the same case, are pending with the President of the country. However, the court in Chandigarh has ordered the jailor to conduct the execution on Saturday, and has sent a contempt of court notice to the superintendent of the prison.
2) The state government says it will file an appeal in a higher court to stop Saturday's hanging. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will meet President Pratibha Patil today with a clemency appeal.
3) Mr Rajoana has attacked the Punjab government for trying to save him. In a letter released today from prison, he described the Akali Dal, which is in power in Punjab, as "cheaters." He said the party has not fought to get justice for the Sikhs who were killed in the Delhi riots in 1984 after Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.
4) The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee or SGPC, which functions as a parliament of Sikhs, sent a mercy petition to President Pratibha Patil for Mr Rajoana. It allegedly cites 11 other similar cases where the death sentence was commuted.
5) The Sikh clergy has said the state government must fight to save Mr Rajoana. The Akal Takht, which is the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, has conferred the title of "zinda shaheed" or living martyr conferred on him by Sikh high priests. Mr Rajoana has said he does not want this title.
6) Mr Rajoana was awarded the death sentence for the assassination of Beant Singh in 2007 by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court. Beant Singh who was the Chief Minister of Punjab from 1992 to 1995 was largely credited with wiping out terrorism from Punjab. He was assassinated by a human bomb, Dilawar Singh, at the high security Punjab civil secretariat in Chandigarh in August 1995. Mr Rajoana was to serve as a back-up human bomb.
7) The assassinated Chief Minister's family has also stated that it has forgiven Mr Rajoana and would like his death sentence to be converted to life imprisonment.
8) A man named Jagtar Singh Hawara was described by the court as the mastermind of the assassination plot and was sentenced to death but his punishment was later commuted by a different court.
9) The campaign to prevent Mr Rajoana's execution has turned into an emotional issue in Punjab. As the scheduled date of execution approaches, security in the state has been increased.
10) The execution can be stopped if the President of the country or the Supreme Court intervenes.