Jammu/Srinagar, March 28 (IANS) Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir Wednesday joined their counterparts in Punjab to protest Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) terrorist Balwant Singh Rajoana’s hanging scheduled for Saturday.
Hundreds of Sikhs held a sit-in at Raj Bagh, blocking the Jammu-Pathankote route that brings supplies to the state from outside, demanding that Rajoana not be hanged. The state’s summer capital Srinagar also saw protests at city centre Lal Chowk.
‘This protest is in solidarity with Sikhs in Punjab who have joined the cause of saving the life of Rajoana,’ Sukhdev Singh, a protestor at Raj Bagh, told mediapersons.
Rajoana’s hanging has become an issue in Jammu and Kashmir because the mercy petition of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri, is still pending with President Pratibha Patil.
Sikhs comprise around 3.6 lakhs of Jammu and Kashmir’s one crore population.
During the 1980s, Jammu region had witnessed a series of acts of terror by Sikh terrorists.
Dozens of Sikh protesters also assembled in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk area, demanding that the hanging of Rajoana be deferred. They raised slogans against United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
‘The culprits of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots are roaming free while the hanging of Balwant Singh is being hastened,’ said a Sikh protester.
Police intervened to disperse the protesters. Around a dozen Sikh protesters were arrested.
Police have mounted a vigil across the state because of the fear of protests flaring up in Sikh dominated areas.
‘We are alive to the situation,’ a senior police officer told IANS.
Rajoana has been convicted in the assassination case of Beant Singh, who was Punjab chief minister between 1992 and 1995 and was largely credited with wiping out terrorism there. He was killed by a human bomb, Dilawar Singh, at the high security Punjab civil secretariat here Aug 31, 1995. Rajoana was the second human bomb to be used in case the first assassin failed.
Rajoana, during the entire 11-year trial, had admitted that he alone was responsible for the killing of Beant Singh. He had refused to defend himself in court.