'Release Bandi Singhs’, demand SAD, SGPC as Supreme Court sets free Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts : The Tribune India

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'Release Bandi Singhs’, demand SAD, SGPC as Supreme Court sets free Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts

SAD had been demanding release of several Sikh prisoners, including Balwant Singh Rajoana and Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar

'Release Bandi Singhs’, demand SAD, SGPC as Supreme Court sets free Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts

A display board with photographs of Sikh political prisoners. Tribune File



Chandigarh, November 11

On a day the Supreme Court directed the premature release of six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal urged the Centre to release all Sikh prisoners who have completed their terms. 

Asserting that the last impediment to freeing all 'Bandi Singhs' (Sikh prisoners) has been cleared with this verdict, he said, “Now there is no constitutional ground to deny freedom to the Sikh prisoners.”

Badal also asserted that the release of the Sikh prisoners would serve to heal old wounds and was a move in the right direction to bring lasting peace and communal harmony in Punjab.

 “Claims to the contrary are wrong and only aimed at creating a communal divide in a sensitive border state. Accordingly, the home ministry should also reassess its judgement of the situation and recommend the release of the detainees immediately," he said in a statement.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had been demanding the release of several Sikh prisoners, including Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh's assassination case; and Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, a 1993 Delhi bomb blast convict.   

In a statement here, Badal said it was “extremely disturbing” that the release of the Sikh detainees, including Rajoana, had been “stalled” with the home ministry giving an “adverse report” to the Supreme Court which had asked the government to take a final decision on the clemency plea of Rajoana.

“Sikh sentiments are already hurt and any further delay in the release of the detainees will send a wrong message to the minority community," Badal said.

 “Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given a commitment to the Sikh community on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in 2019 that the sentence of all Sikh detainees serving life sentences would be commuted and that the death sentence of Bhai Rajoana would be commuted to life.

 “The home ministry had even followed up this commitment and written to states where the prisoners were lodged informing them about this decision. However, three years on, the decision has not been implemented," the SAD chief said.

Reacting to the court verdict in the Rajiv Gandhi case, SGPC chief Harjinder Singh Dhami asked why the same is not being applied in the case of Sikh political prisoners.

In a statement, he alleged that the “discriminatory policy” being adopted by governments for the Sikhs stands exposed with this decision.   

He said the Sikh community has been raising voice for the release of Sikh prisoners locked in different jails in the country for the last three decades, but the governments have turned a deaf ear.  

Dhami added that if the Tamil Nadu government can recommend the release of convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, why the same cannot be done by the governments of various states, including the Centre and Punjab, for the release of Sikh prisoners.

 

 

#balwant singh rajoana #sukhbir badal #supreme court


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