Chandigarh, May 4, 2022 (Yes Punjab News)
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal today appealed to all panthic organizations 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 a press conference here, the SAD president appealed to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President to take the lead and call a meeting of panthic organizations 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”, the SAD President said in an impassioned appeal here.
Asserting that the coordinated approach would be adopted in consultation with all panthic organizations and parties as well as Singh Sabhas and the Sant Samaj, Mr Sukhbir Badal when questioned said this could include leading a delegation to the Prime Minister to ensure the speedy release of the Sikh prisoners. He also thanked Sri 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, Mr Sukhbir 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 Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji in October, 2019. He said around fifty Sikh prisoners were incarcerated in various jails across the country and they should all be released immediately.
Mr Badal said the way had also been cleared for the release of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana whose death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the union government in 2019 even as the Supreme Court had commuted Prof Bhullar’s death sentence to life on the grounds of inordinate delay in deciding his mercy petition.
He said it was unfortunate that Bhai 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 Prof 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 owes an explanation on this count to the Sikh community”, he added.
Mr Badal also detailed how the SAD had always taken the lead by relentlessly advocating the cause of the release of the Sikh prisoners. “Former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal not only expressed his strong resistance against the judicial orders to hang Bhai Rajoana but even refused to carry out these orders”. He said the SAD had also submitted a resolution to the union government to request for commuting Bhai Rajoana’s death sentence to life term and later for his release.
The SAD President also expressed grave concern at the manner in which attempts were being made to vitiate communal harmony through irresponsible statements by AAP leaders. He said immediately after the flare up in Patiala, AAP MP Raghav Chadha claimed that it was the result of a clash between the BJP and the SAD. “The same statement was corroborated by Mr. Kejriwal and later by the chief minister. This has undermined the authority of the chief minister and makes it clear that the Punjab government is being run from Delhi”.
Mr Badal said the truth was that the chief minister had been informed about efforts to spoil the peace in the State four days in advance but did not act on it. He said even after the clash despite the fact that Shiv Sena leader Harish Singla was identified as the main conspirator by his own party as well as Hindu organizations, the government declared Baljinder Singh Parwana as the chief conspirator.
Terming this adventurism as a dangerous trend, Mr Badal said AAP should not try to inflame communal sentiments in Punjab and the chief minister should ensure the rule of law is maintained in the State. He also reaffirmed that the SAD would continue to do its utmost for the cause of peace and communal harmony in the State.
Others present on the occasion included Balwinder Singh Bhundur, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, Sikandar Singh Maluka, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, Virsa Singh Valtoha, Amarjit Singh Chawla, Bhai Gurcharan Singh Grewal, Karnail Singh Peermohammad and Harcharan Singh Bains.