About a year and half ago, the story of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar was shared on this blog. Devender Pal Singh, a university professor, has been on India’s death row after he was deemed guilty for a bombing in India in 1993 which took the lives of nine people. He was sentenced to death by hanging.
However, the conviction was rife with inconsistencies and problems, the most notable of which was that Devender Pal Singh’s confession was based solely on his thumb print that was taken on a blank piece of paper while he was in the custody of Indian police, and without any legal counsel present. The confession was later retracted, and despite that 133 prosecution witnesses could not identify Devender Pal Singh, the Indian judiciary upheld the conviction.
One judge involved in this saga even stated that “Proof beyond reasonable doubt is a guideline, not a fetish.” Such is the regard for human life in India.
For the past decade, his family in the United States and human rights organizations have been pursuing clemency, while Devender Pal Singh suffered mental and physical debilitation in police custody. However, the government took no action on this highly questionable administration of “justice”, and today, the Indian judiciary has dismissed the appeals for clemency.
It was only a year ago that the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana was stayed by the Indian government, even though Balwant Singh did not appeal his conviction. It is incomprehensible that in the case of Devender Pal Singh, which suffers from numerous significant judicial deficiencies, there is such a stubborn drive to perform an execution. Perhaps this suggests where the fetish exists, if not in the pursuit of truth and legitimate justice.
The vengeful blood-thirst of official agencies, media and sections of Indian society that wish to punish Sikhs — any Sikhs — on extremely suspect grounds for the excesses that occurred during the insurgency in Punjab during the 1980s and 1990s grossly exceeds any justice for the actions taken by official agents who committed egregious acts of state terror on the Punjabi population.
The Indian judiciary is now waiting for doctors to medically clear Devender Pal Singh — now receiving mental health treatment — for execution. Should he be executed, this act could only be seen as a shameful travesty for which every Indian should lower their head in shame.
For more information about the case of Professor Devender Pal Singh, read the summary of his case by Amnesty International here.