NEW DELHI — Prime Minister had slipped out of Delhi and Home Minister Buta Singh was playing hard to get when four senior opposition leaders made a final bid to save Kehar Singh from the gallows on Thursday. Desperately trying to reach the prime minister to prevent what they termed as senseless and judicial murder, opposition leaders tried to contact Buta Singh late on Thursday. But as these leaders recounted on Friday, the Home Minister eluded them.

Four senior leaders, Atal Bihar Bajpayee of BJP, K.P. Unni Krishnan of congress(s) Lt. Gen. J. S. Aurora of Akali Dal and Sutinder Mohan of Janata Dal wanted to meet Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to ask him to convene a meeting of the cabinet committee to review its earlier decision rejecting the mercy petition of Kehar Singh. Opposition leaders wanted the cabinet to meet because according to one of them, the President R. Venkataraman had already made it known that he was bound by the advice of the cabinet. In rejecting the mercy petition of Kehar Singh.

The President, according to these leaders, had also said that under the constitution he could not go beyond the cabinet advice and examine the documents and evidence placed before him.

The prime minister had gone out of Delhi on an election campaign that followed his new year holiday at dim Corbett Park in U.P. Under the circumstances the opposition leaders said they wanted to convey their feelings to the home minister but he avoided them. First it was told that he was in his office. Then, it was said he was at his residence, and when they tried to contact him at his residence, they were informed that he had gone out. It is learnt that Aurora was also keen on meeting the president but he was told by President Secretary, Mr. Prem Kumar, that constitutionally there was nothing that president could do in the matter. Mr. Prem Kumar advised Unni Krishnan to talk to the government. Having failed in their efforts to meet the government, opposition leaders, then, passed on a letter to the home minister’s office. The letter addressed to the president sought a stay on the execution of Kehar Singh but without success.

Article extracted from this publication >>  January 13, 1989