Mercy plea of Khalistan terrorist on death row rejected (Lead)

May 26th, 2011 - 11:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil Thursday rejected the mercy petition of Devender Singh Bhullar, a Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) terrorist sentenced to death for a 1993 car bomb attack that killed 12 people and injured 29, including former Youth Congress leader M.S. Bitta.

According to top government sources, the president has rejected the mercy petition of the prisoner on the death row and the “report has been sent to the home ministry”.

This is the second case in which the president has given a go-ahead for execution, the source said.

Four months ago, President Patil rejected the mercy petition of M.N. Das.

Convicted for murdering a person when on bail, Das’ petition was pending since Oct 21, 2010. He is currently lodged in the Guwahati central jail.

However, Bhullar’s case is the oldest. He was convicted in 2001 and his mercy petition was pending with the president since January 2003.

Bhullar was the mastermind of a car bomb attack on Bitta in front of 5, Raisina Road office of the Youth Congress Sep 11, 1993.

The daring RDX blast in the heart of New Delhi had shocked the nation and prompted Bitta to set up the Anti-Terrorist Front.

Bhullar was deported back to India from Germany in 1995 and has been lodged in the high security ward in the Tihar Jail.

He was sentenced to death Aug 25, 2001 and the Supreme Court dismissed his special leave petition Dec 27, 2006.

Sikh communities and human rights activists were running a campaign asking that his mercy petition be accepted.

The president’s rejection of Bhullar’s mercy plea comes after the Supreme Court Monday expressed “surprise” over the eight-year delay in disposal of his mercy plea. The court said it wanted to examine the delay on part of the government.

But sources said the president was not “sitting over” important decisions.

“It was after seven years that a president has given reccomendation (on death sentance). The first one was given four months back,” the source said, adding that the process has begun to clear the long list of convicts awaiting death sentence, including parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

Guru’s wife Tabasum Afzal had petitioned the president on October 3, 2006, for commutation of his death sentence. The Delhi government was asked for its comments and it submitted its response in June last year. The report is under consideration with Home Minister P.Chidambaram.

At least 256 condemned convicts are currently awaiting endorsements of the Supreme Court and high courts of their death sentence handed down by trial courts. A total of 52 other condemned prisoners have filed mercy petitions before the central government, seeking pardon or reduction of their sentence.

Sole surviving 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab has ahead of him on the death row people like Guru, condemned to the gallows for his involvement in the December 2001 parliament attack case, awaiting the president’s decision on their mercy petitions.

The others who got death penalties in recent past include a Lakhimpur Kheri petrol pump owner who killed Indian Oil Corporation officer S.Manjunath and two Babbar Khalsa militants who assassinated the then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995.

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