February 16, 2015 | By Parmjeet Singh
Chandigarh: Representatives of various Sikh bodies today met Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal at his official residence and discuss the issue of political prisoners who have not been released despite completing their jail term.
The meeting was convened to discuss and deliberate on the issue by chief minister himself as veteran Akali Surat Singh is on fast unto death from the last 31 days.
The delegation led by Advocate Harpal Singh Cheema, Kanwar Pal Singh and Gurdip Singh Bhatinda handed over a letter written by Surat Singh addressed to Prime Minister of the country Narendra Modi and to chief minister.
Through letter Surat Singh has sought status of political prisoners for all Sikh prisoners sentenced in cases relating to the Sikh struggle and release of all prisoners who have completed their full jail terms and are legitimately due for release.
The delegation met Chief Minister for an hour and apprised him about the status of prisoners and sought his support to get the prisoners released. Punjab’s advocate general Shri Aggarwal was also present during the meeting. They urged Badal not to resort to force-feeding Surat Singh and allow him to register his protest in a democratic and peaceful manner uninterrupted.
On the other hand, Badal citing supreme court interim order dated 9 July 2014, barring all state governments not to release life convicts by remitting their sentences, expressed his helplessness. When Badal expressed apprehension about any law and order problem due to hunger strike, they assured that it would not happen.
Acknowledging that Punjab government has had a role to play though little on the issue, the delegation asked the CM to take up the matter with President, Home Minister and chief ministers of Delhi, Gujarat, UP and Karnataka.
Narrating as to why Surat Singh was observing the fast unto death since Jan 16, Harpal Cheema briefed that to fulfill the unfinished work of Gurbaksh Singh seeking the release of political prisoners that he has taken this extreme step.
Kanwar Pal Singh of Dal Khalsa said that the Indian state has two sets of laws and their implementation, not based upon equality but perception of the individuals in question –perception of their religion and the ism that the person follows.
The question is not about the release of a few Sikh prisoners, the question is about the inalienable right of a person to live life without fetters. The question is about regaining of liberty after the prisoner have completed his or her full term of one’s sentence in prison. The question is about justice, equality and fair play.
Notably, police has forcibly picked up Surat Singh from his village Hasanpur on Feb 8 and detained him at civil hospital, Ludhiana.
The delegation comprises of Jaswant Singh Mann of SAD (Amritsar), Advocate Rajvinder Singh Bains, Gurnam Singh Sidhu, Jasbir Singh Khandur of Panch Pardani and Ravinder jit Singh Gogi son of Surat Singh.
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