CHANDIGARH: Nine Sikh prisoners who have been behind bars for the last three decades will be released as a humanitarian goodwill gesture ahead of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. These prisoners, charged with under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) are lodged in different jails across the country.
The Centre has also decided to remit the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, the Babbar Khalsa militant, to life sentence. He was convicted for the assassination of then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995.
Though there is no confirmation on the identity, the sources claim that the Ministry of Home Affairs has reportedly approved the release of nine people, who had been detained under TADA. Of these, seven are lodged in different jails of Punjab. These include Nand Singh in Patiala Central Jail, Lal Singh, Dilbagh Singh, Saran Singh lodged in Nabha Jail, Subegh Singh in Ludhiana Central Jail and Hardeep Singh and Baj Singh in Amritsar Central Jail. While Waryam Singh in Bareilly Jail of Uttar Pradesh and Gurdeep Singh Khera at Gulbarga Central Jail in Karnataka.
The MHA has approved remitting death sentence to a life sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana who was sentenced to death for the assassination of then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995.
In 2012 the Union Government had stayed his hanging, which was slated for March 31, 2012. The decision was taken after a mercy petition was filed by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and was backed by the then SAD-BJP Government in Punjab.
The then Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal had handed over a mercy petition to the then President Pratibha Patil on
behalf of the state government. Patil had then referred the matter to MHA which has stayed his execution till the matter is decided by the Supreme Court or mercy plea is considered by the President.
It is learnt that these names were discussed between the MHA and the Punjab Government.
Meanwhile, Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, who has been fighting for the release of all the 22 Sikh prisoners lodged in different jails of the country for offences related to terrorism in Punjab, said, "It’s a good decision, I welcome this move by the Union Government. I hope the government will expedite the release of the remaining prisoners.”