Friday, February 6, 2015

Parkash Singh Badal hell-bent on release of terrorists, despite criticism

Manjeet Sehgal   |   Mail Today  |   Chandigarh, January 12, 2015 | UPDATED 10:49 IST

Despite facing widespread criticism, the Parkash Singh Badalled Punjab government seems to be going ahead with its agenda to secure premature release for convicted Khalistan militants who were sentenced to life imprisonment. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) government has already moved the Supreme Court seeking its nod for exercising the premature release policy to free all lifers, most of them terrorists, who have completed their required sentence and were eligible for remission. In a major relief to the Punjab and Haryana governments, former terrorist Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa was on Saturday forcibly lifted from Lakhnaur Sahib Gurdwara where he had been fasting for the last 58 days. He was admitted to the civil hospital by the Ambala police.

Khalsa has been seeking the release of seven Sikh prisoners, including those convicted for the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995 and the 1993 New Delhi bomb blast case. The gurdwara where he was holding his fast-unto-death had become a chosen spot for antinational elements, who assembled there and shouted pro-Khalistan slogans. Earlier on Saturday Sikh organisations, including the hardliner groups, called Punjab shutdown to extend support to Khalsa. The shutdown call evoked a mixed response. The impact was felt in Amritsar and Ajnala, while life remained unaffected in other parts of the state, including Batala, Phagwara, Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur.

The Amritsar district administration had deployed heavy police force in the city and other towns as a precautionary measure. The radical Sikhs protested in many parts of the state and demanded release of the Sikh prisoners. "We have demanded immediate release of the Sikh prisoners who are languishing in various jails. They should be released as per the government policy," Sikh Youth Federation Bhindranwale president Balwant Singh Gopala said. Khalsa,who began his indefinite hunger strike from November 14, 2014 in Ambala, sought the release of convicted terrorists Jagtar Singh Hawara, Paramjit Singh Bheora, Lakhwinder Singh alias Lakha, Gurmit Singh and Shamsher Singh. Khalsa's demand list also includes the release of 1993 Dehi bomb blast accused Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, who was awarded death sentence by a Delhi court. His death sentence was converted into life imprisonment by the apex court on medical grounds.

Khalsa had also expressed the desire to visit the Golden Temple Complex, but was not given permission. Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal in his December 24, 2014 letter had requested various state governments, including Delhi and Chandigarh for premature release of 13 convicts. Meanwhile, in a major twist to the issue, the Punjab government has disclosed that it had already moved the apex court seeking Sikh prisoners' release.

"The state government has filed the application in the SC through its counsel Jagjit Singh Chabbra on January 8," a spokesperson for the chief minister's office said. He said the application in the court had been moved upon the instruction of Punjab CM. He said the government has also sought permission to consider and decide applications of the life convicts seeking premature release in the interest of the justice.

Source: [last accessed 06.02.2015]

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