June 15, 2011 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Toronto (June 15, 2011): As per media reports Canada’s opposition party has asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper to urge India to review the death penalty against Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar in a 1993 car bombing near the Indian Youth Congress office in New Delhi.
Prof. DPS Bhullar was given the death penalty in 2001 by a Delhi court under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA), a Law that was later revoked by the Indian state in wake of its’ widespread misuse. President of India Pratibha Patil rejected Bhullar’s constituion review petition last month.
Canada’s main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has now joined the issue by asking the prime minister to intervene to save Bhullar who once taught at Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College in Ludhiana.
In a letter to Prime Minister Harper, NDP leader Jack Layton has called Bhullar’s trial “questionable” and his conviction “doubtful”.
Questioning the trial, Layton said, “The evidence used against Prof Bhullar was reportedly obtained through torture while he was in custody in 2001.”
The Canadian politician said human rights groups like Amnesty International have also raised serious questions about the way Bhullar’s “arrest, sentencing and trial were conducted.”
According to these organizations, he said, Bhullar was arrested under the defunct TADA which allows “no provisions to appeal to the high court.”
Layton alleged that Bhullar was found guilty based on “unsubstantiated confession made in police custody, while being tortured and threatened with death.”
The politician said since Bhullar’s wife, Navneet Kaur, is a Canadian citizen, “she deservedly expects that the government of Canada would pay attention to the situation regarding her husband and his custody abroad.”
He told the prime minister that since India and Canada enjoy very good relations, “I urge you to express Canada’s interest in addressing the concerns regarding this case and reaffirm our long-standing position in favour of abolishing the death penalty. I hope you will look into this and ask India to review the case of Prof Bhullar.”
Bhullar’s wife lives with her family in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey. She was among more than 200 Sikhs who protested against the death sentence for Bhullar at the just concluded Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Toronto.
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