Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said that all cases of death penalty should be commuted to life imprisonment. His comments come after the Home Ministry decided to commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who was convicted for the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, to life imprisonment.
Amarinder Singh, however, said the Congress party's stand on Beant Singh's killers has always been clear and consistent -- that they should serve their full sentence.
The chief minister, in Ludhiana today, said he is personally against death penalty, which he had said back in 2012 too.
He said the Centre had demanded a list of 17 prisoners booked under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act from the state government.
"Rajoana's name was in the list of the 17 prisoners submitted to the Centre as he was a TADA prisoner who had completed more than 14 years in jail, like the other prisoners on the list," he said, adding that the state had no role in the Centre's decision.
He said the state government is yet to receive the names of the nine prisoners who had been given a special exemption by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Ludhiana Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, who is the grandson of Beant Singh, has questioned the Centre's move, saying the dreaded terrorist should not be "spared" at any cost.
"Who are they to commute the death sentence to life term when the Supreme Court has given capital punishment (to Rajoana)," Mr Bittu said. "He (Rajoana) is a dreaded terrorist and should not be spared at any cost."
He said the BJP indulged in petty politics to woo Sikh voters despite the prime minister vowing to fight terrorism on a global platform.
Apprehending that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were playing with fire and putting peace in Punjab in jeopardy, the Beant Singh's grandson said they won't let this happen.
"My family suffered a huge loss with the killing of my grandfather but we are prepared for another battle and would not let the BJP push Punjab into days of terrorism," Mr Bittu said.
"As an ex-Armyman, I can assure the people that we are fully prepared to counter any threat and will not let the peace of Punjab be disturbed under any circumstances," the chief minister said.
He said Pakistan was striving to destroy Punjab's hard-earned peace by pushing terrorists and weapons into the state and his government would take all possible steps to tighten the security further.
Meanwhile, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) welcomed the decision on Rajoana. SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal said the matter related to sentiments of the Sikh community.