Tribune News Service
Sangrur, November 14
The Punjab Government on Monday released farmer activist and murder convict Manjit Singh Dhaner, following an approval to his pardon plea by Governor VP Singh Badnore. This was confirmed by Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa. Various farmer organisations have been protesting against his conviction for the last several weeks.
R Venkat Ratnam, Principal Secretary, Jails, issued orders of his release. Dhaner remained in jail for one year, four months and 20 days as per the jail roll. He was convicted along with three others of the murder of 85-year-old farmer Dalip Singh, who had died during a clash between two groups over a rape and murder case in Barnala.
Dhaner was released from Barnala jail late this evening. For the last 46 days, farmers had been staging a dharna seeking his release. They claim they had spent Rs 4 crore on sustaining the fight for justice. They have now decided to organise a “victory march” on Friday.
“We will organise a dhol march in surrounding villages. We got a call from the CMO about Punjab Governor’s approval to Dhaner’s pardon plea. Our protest continued on the 46th day today,” said Narain Dutt, a member of the 42-member struggle committee.
Earlier today, hundreds of members of various unions, including BKU (Dakanuda), BKU (Ugrahan), Kirti Kisan Union, Anganwari Union and others converged in front of the Barnala jail and held a rally. Dutt said during their 46-day-long struggle, they never faced any financial or other problems as they had been getting support from people across the state and even abroad. “Dhaner was falsely implicated in a murder case because he fought against the rape and murder of a teenager belonging to Mehal Kalan in July, 1997,” claimed Dutt.
“Like me, there are hundreds of area residents who have been coming here daily to express solidarity with Dhaner. We need to support him to motivate others to fight against injustice,” said Balwant Singh, an area farmer. Dhaner had surrendered in Barnala court on September 30 after the Supreme Court in the first week of September, directing him to surrender in four weeks.
“It is a victory of all state residents who supported the protest against injustice,” said Joginder Singh Ugrahan, chief of BKU (Ugrahan).
Barnala Deputy commissioner TPS Phoolka said the notification for the release of Dhaner was issued late in the evening.
Was convicted of murder
- Manjit Singh Dhaner (62) of Barnala, senior vice-president of BKU (Ekta-Dakaunda), was convicted, along with three others, of the murder of 85-year-old farmer Dalip Singh, who had died during a clash between two groups
- Dhaner was leading a protest against the rape and murder of a teenager belonging to Mehal Kalan in Barnala in July, 1997
‘Will contest FIRs’
After his release, Dhaner said he would continue his fight for the cause of the farming community. He slammed the state government for registering cases against farmers over stubble burning. He said he would fight for those who have been jailed and get the FIRs cancelled.
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