Chandigarh: Some of the most dreaded Khalistani terrorists, including those involved in mass killings and VIP assassinations, have found favour with Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, which is seeking their release from prisons.
Although the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has firmly rejected the request, the Akali Dal submitted a memorandum to Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi Thursday seeking the release of 13 Sikh detainees lodged in or convicted in other states.
The terrorists, booked and convicted under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) Act, made it to the Akali list.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal last month wrote to his counterparts in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Karnataka and Gujarat besides the Lt. Governor of New Delhi and the Chandigarh administrator to release the 13 on humanitarian grounds.
Badal wants the release of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, a Khalistani terrorist convicted in the assassination attempt of former Indian Youth Congress president Maninderjit Singh Bitta in New Delhi in which several people died in September 1993. Bhullar has spent over 20 years in jail.
Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) terrorists Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjit Singh Bheora, lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail, are also on Badal’s list. Both made a sensational escape from Chandigarh’s Burail prison in January 2004 by digging a 104-feet tunnel along with their accomplice Jagtar Singh Tara and another convict.
Hawara and Bheora were convicted for the assassination of then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh by a human bomb in Chandigarh in August 1995. Many died in the attack.
Fugitive Tara was arrested in Thailand near the resort town of Pattaya Monday and will be extradited to India within a month.
Badal also urged the Chandigarh administrator to release five Khalistani terrorists and supporters: Gurmeet Singh, Shamsher Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, Subeg Singh and Nand Singh, all lodged in Chandigarh’s Burail jail. They have been in prison for 15 to 19 years.
In separate letters written Dec 24 last year to his counterparts in five states and authorities in Delhi and Chandigarh, Badal “impressed upon them to consider the cases sympathetically as per the provisions of pre-mature release policy of their states so as to secure the release of these convicts expeditiously”.
In his letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Badal urged him to consider the case of life convict Waryam Singh, lodged in Central Jail in Bareily. He has been in prison for 22 years.
Badal wrote to Rajanthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje for the release of another life convict, Gurmeet Singh Fauji, currently in Tonk jail. He has completed nine out of 10 years’ imprisonment awarded to him.
“When a prisoner spends more than the stipulated period in jail and is eligible to be considered for premature release, when he is not released, resentment in the minds of his near and dear ones and provides reasons for certain segments of society to agitate,” Badal said in his letters.
He urged West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee to get life convict Daya Singh Lahoria, lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail, saying he had completed 10 years in jail against the life sentence awarded to him.
Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has been urged to release life convict Lal Singh, lodged in the Nabha jail in Punjab. He has been in prison for 22 years.
The release of life convict Gurdeep Singh Khaira, now in Gulberg Jail in Karnataka, has also been sought. He has been in jail for 24 years.