Language Sites
  • UCAN China
  • UCAN India
  • UCAN Indonesia
  • UCAN Vietnam

Indian Court commutes Sikh terrorist's death sentence

Man escapes hanging after 13 years on death row

Swati Deb, New Delhi

March 31, 2014

Mail This Article
(For more than one recipient, type addresses separated by commas)

The Supreme Court commuted the sentence of a Sikh terrorist to life imprisonment on Monday, 21 years after Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar masterminded a car bomb attack that killed nine people in New Delhi.

India’s highest court passed the order following a petition by Bhullar’s wife Nayneet Kaur after a previous mercy plea took eight years to process by the government, a delay deemed unacceptable during Monday’s verdict.

Bhullah was sentenced to death by hanging in August 2001 following the attempted assassination of former Indian Youth Congress head M.S. Bitta, an outspoken critic of the Sikh separatist Khalistan movement which seeks to create a separate state in Punjab.

Bhullah later admitted to the attack which left nine bystanders dead, including two of Bitta’s body guards. Bitta himself escaped with shrapnel wounds.

Two years after receiving the death sentence, Bhullar filed a petition for clemency with the then president of India which was rejected eight years later in 2011.

Congress leader Bitta, who is also head of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, criticized the government’s “mishandling of the case” following the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday.

“The leadership of Congress has no sympathy for those who lost their lives in the blast,” he told “This is a very unfortunate decision of a few Congress leaders.”

Bitta and family members of the victims of the blast were planning to challenge the Supreme Court’s decision, according to people close to Bitta who declined to be identified.

Others including political commentator Harijai Singh welcomed the decision.

“It is in line with the Supreme Court’s own ruling regarding delay in deciding on a mercy petition,” he said.

UCAN needs your support to continue our independent journalism
Access to UCAN stories is completely free of charge - however it costs a significant amount of money to provide our unique content. UCAN relies almost entirely on donations from our readers and donor organizations that support our mission. If you are a regular reader and are able to support us financially, please consider making a donation. Click here to donate now.

Related Reports