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India: Balwant Singh reprieve not enough

The final hour reprieve for Balwant Singh, due to be executed on Saturday 31 March, was welcomed by Amnesty International today and acts as a reminder of the Indian government’s need to commute all capital sentences in the country, the organisation said.

Bikramjeet Batra, Amnesty International’s policy adviser, said:

“Balwant Singh’s reprieve is a welcome decision by the Indian government. His execution would have been the first in India in eight years and would have set back the country’s alignment with the global trend away from the death penalty.

"This should be a first step by the Indian authorities to real progress away from this inhuman act: they need to establish an official moratorium on executions, commute all death sentences  - and ultimately abolish the death penalty for all crimes."

Balwant Singh Rajoana was scheduled to be hanged on March 31 in Punjab state, but his execution has been stayed pending an appeal by the Punjab state government to India’s President Pratibha Patil.

Balwant Singh was found guilty in 2007 of the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995.

No executions have been carried out in India since 2004. Two thirds of all countries have abolished the death penalty.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Read more on our work on the death penalty at

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