Surrey woman’s mentally-unstable husband on death row in India won’t be executed

Published: February 26, 2014

Indian Sikhs hold photographs of Devinderpal Singh Bhullar during a protest march to the Presidential palace in New Delhi on April 19, 2013, against the Supreme Court rejection of a petition by Bhullar to change his death sentence to life imprisonment. RAVEEN DRAN/AFP/Getty Images

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

A Surrey woman’s husband who has become mentally unstable after being in solitary confinement on death row in India for more than a decade will not be executed, the country’s government announced Wednesday.

According to Indian broadcaster New Delhi Television (NDTV), the government claims that because of his health, Devinderpal Singh Bhullar — alleged to be involved in a 1993 Delhi car-bomb blast that killed nine people — will not be executed before his mercy plea goes to court, which has finally been scheduled for March 10.

The Supreme Court and the state of Delhi have been urging the government to make a decision on Bhullar’s mercy plea, which was filed by his wife Navneet Kaur, who lives in Surrey with her parents.

They’ve asked for Bhullar’s death sentence to be commuted to life because of his mental illness, referencing a landmark Supreme Court ruling from January that saw 15 inmates’ death sentences switched to life imprisonment based on long delays in court decisions or mental instability. Bhullar fits both criteria.

“The Lieutenant-governor has sent his recommendations, but there is no decision by the (government). In a case like this, the (government) should have taken its decision without delay and this is really torture,” a Supreme Court judge said.

According to NDTV, the government has agreed to consider the Lieutenant-governor’s views and send recommendations to the president before the court date.

Bhullar’s wife Navneet Kaur in her home in Surrey January 22 2014. Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

In a January interview with Vancouver Desi, Kaur said she’s spent the last 20 years watching her husband’s health slowly decline as she’s travelled from Surrey to India to visit him in prison.  According to Kaur, Bhullar no longer recognizes her. Kaur could not be reached by phone Wednesday.

Bhullar was a college professor in Punjab when he was alleged to be involved in the 1993 Delhi car-bombing. He remained underground in Germany until 1994, when he planned to join his wife in Canada. But Germany deported him back to India where he was accused of plotting the terror attack.

In 2001, nearly a decade later, he was sentenced to death. He spent 10 years in solitary confinement, which resulted in his mental instability and subsequent transfer to a psychiatric facility.

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