POLL: I'll take petition against Indian death penalty to Parliament but I'd bring it back in the UK
A DERBYSHIRE MP who will deliver a petition to Westminster calling for the abolition of the death penalty in India has revealed she would vote to have it reinstated in this country.
Heather Wheeler, MP for South Derbyshire, was at a meeting of Sikhs at the Guru Arjan Dev Gurdwara, in Stanhope Street, Normanton, to talk about the situation in India.
She was given the 4,000-signature petition which had been gathered from Sikhs in Derby calling on pressure to be applied to the government of India to stop the death penalty.
But following the meeting, Mrs Wheeler, who caused controversy after she voted against the recent gay marriage bill, revealed that she would vote in favour of the death penalty being reinstated in Britain.
She said: "I would vote for it to be brought back in this country.
"Where you have vicious criminal acts, why should they live on this land?"
However, she said she would listen to the concerns of her constituents and deliver the petition to Westminster
Chris Williamson was also at the meeting and received another copy of the petition.
The Derby North MP dubbed her comments "very regrettable".
He said: "The mark of a civilised society is one that does not execute people."
Jaz Rai, the Sikh community leader who along with Bhajan Singh coordinated the Derby petition said he was unaware of Mrs Wheeler's beliefs before she was invited to the meeting.
He said: "I didn't know about her position. However, that is her opinion and I respect that, not only as a Member of Parliament but also as a person."
The meeting at the temple was held following the debate on the death penalty in India in Westminster on Thursday last week.
The debate was held after a 120,000-signature petition, taken from across the UK, was delivered to Parliament, meaning a debate could be held on the Indian death penalty.
The petition was started after Balwant Singh Rajoana was supposed to be hanged for the assassination of the former chief minister of the Punjab, Beant Singh, in 1995.
But a stay of execution was granted and the Indian government, which had a moratorium on executions since 2004, is now considering his fate.
Mr Williamson is the secretary for an all-party parliamentary group which promotes the global abolition of the death penalty.
He said: "The debate in Parliament united almost the whole House. I'd urge people to write to the Indian High Commission and their MP about the issue."
The campaign group, Kesri Lehar, which created the national petition, will continue to put pressure on the government of India to abolish the death penalty following the historic debate.
To learn more visit www.kesrilehar.co.uk or email Mr Rai on email@example.com.
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