Create movement to ensure release of Sikh prisoners: Sukhbir
Chandigarh, May 4 (IANS) Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday appealed to all Panthic organisations to unite on a common platform to create a movement to ensure the release of 'bandi-Sikhs' (Sikh prisoners), who have been languishing in jail even after expiry of their life sentences.
Addressing the media here, Badal appealed to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President to take the lead and call a meeting of Panthic organisations to devise a joint strategy to fulfill the demand of Punjabis worldwide to free the Sikh prisoners on humanitarian grounds.
"We may have individual and political differences, but let us shed them aside for the cause of the bandi Sikhs," he said.
He asserted that the coordinated approach would be adopted in consultation with all Panthic organisations and parties as well as Singh Sabhas and the Sant Samaj. This could include leading a delegation to the Prime Minister to ensure the speedy release of the Sikh prisoners, Badal said.
He thanked Akal Takth jathedar, Giani Harpreet Singh, for taking the lead in this direction by setting the tone for Panthic unity on this crucial issue which concerned the sentiments of Sikhs worldwide.
Asserting that the release of the 'bandi Sikhs' was a long pending issue and that the entire Khalsa panth as well as Punjabis in general were pained at the delay being shown in releasing them, Badal said it was most unfortunate that the release was not taking place despite a national commitment made by the Union government in this regard by approving the release of Sikh prisoners on the occasion of the 550th Parkash Purb of Guru Nanak Dev in October 2019.
He said around 50 Sikh prisoners were incarcerated in various jails across the country and they should all be released immediately.
Badal said the way had also been cleared for the release of Balwant Singh Rajoana whose death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the Union government in 2019 even as the Supreme Court had commuted Bhullar's death sentence to life on the grounds of inordinate delay in deciding his mercy petition.
He said it was unfortunate that Rajoana was not being released even while the Supreme Court had directed the Central government to take a decision on his mercy petition.
"Similarly the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of Delhi is blocking the release of Bhullar with the government's sentence review board not taking a decision in the matter. AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann owe an explanation on this count to the Sikh community," he added.