January 23, 2022 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh: Aam Aadmi Party chief, Arvind Kejriwal, used to seek relief for Sikh political prisoner, Prof. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar, in the past but now when the latter’s release is awaiting clearance by his own government, he seems to have put the issue on the back burner. For the past few weeks, Sikh activists have been running a hashtag “#KejriwalReleaseBhullarNow” over social media. As the calls were ignored by the Aam Aadmi Party, many have taken to the ground to raise the issue. With every passing day, resentment against AAP is growing stronger amongst Sikh circles in Punjab.
Who Is Prof. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar:
Prof. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar was a teacher at Guru Nanak Dev Polytechnic College in Ludhiana. In the early 1990s, he had to flee as the then Chandigarh SSP, Sumedh Saini, had picked up his father, uncle and friend who were tortured to death in police custody. Prof. Bhullar tried to flee India but was stopped by German authorities during an air-travel stay on his way to the USA. German authorities did not realize the threat to his life he was facing in India and he was deported to India in January 1996. He was arrested upon his arrival in Delhi.
A TADA court convicted him in a 1993 case and he was sentenced to death. The global Sikh community subsequently raised its voice against his death sentence. In March 2014, the Indian Supreme Court changed his sentence to imprisonment for life.
In June 2015, he was shifted from Tihar jail in Delhi to a prison in Amritsar. Due to his medical condition, Prof. Bhullar remains hospitalized in Amritsar under the supervision of jail staff.
The Issue Related to Prof. Bhullar’s Release:
In October 2019, the Union Government of India announced its decision to grant premature release to Prof. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar. The Union government had made this announcement on the eve of the 550th Parkash Gurpurab of Guru Nanak Ji.
On 17 December 2019, the Supreme Court of India ordered ‘status-quo’ related to the matter of Prof. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar’s release as the court had accepted to hear a petition moved by Maninder Bitta against Prof. Bhullar’s Release.
The status-quo decision was recently vacated on 9 December 2021, as the Supreme Court of India dismissed Maninder Bitta’s petition challenging Prof. Bhullar’s release.
When Union of India has Cleared Bhullar’s Release, what is the Role of Aam Aadmi Party Led Delhi Government:
The Union government of India and Punjab’s state government have both cleared Prof. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar’s release. As per law however, the final orders of his premature release are to be issued by the state government of Delhi as Prof. Bhullar was convicted in a case pertaining to Delhi.
Being the ‘holding state’, the state government of Delhi can issue his final release order after taking notice of the Union government of India and the state government of Punjab’s agreement in this matter.
What has the Aam Aadmi Party Led Delhi Government Done So far?
It was recently uncovered that the Aam Aadmi Party led Delhi government rejected the case for Prof. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar’s premature release thrice in 2020. Notably, the case was considered and rejected by the AAP led Delhi government despite SCI’s “status quo” order.
Prof. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar’s counsel, Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, told Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) over the phone: “We were surprised to learn that despite SCI having imposed ‘status quo’ on the case of premature release, the Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party government took up his case for consideration and rejected it three times in 2020. The decision was not even communicated to counsel or Prof. Bhullar’s family.”
“As there was a ‘status quo’ order in operation, those decisions to reject his release are legally defective”, he added.
“Moreover, the documents related to these defective rejections show that there was no mention of the Union government of India’s 2019 agreement for Prof. Bhullar’s release.”
Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur maintained that by making no mention of GoI’s concurrence, the Delhi state sentence review board buried vital information favoring Prof. Bhullar’s release. This shows that the decision was defective even in terms of the material facts.
Process For Fresh Consideration is Underway:
According to Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, a fresh process to issue a release order is underway.
“After SCI vacated the ‘status quo’ order on 9 December 2020, I sent a representation to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal via email to issue a release for Prof. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar. I have received updates from the Delhi government which shows that a process to consider Prof. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar’s case for premature release is under way”, said Advo. Manjhpur.
Aam Aadmi Party’s Approach in Prof. Bhullar’s Case:
Having taken legally defective decisions rejecting Prof. Bhullar’s case for premature release, the Aam Aadmi Party has now publicly adopted silence on this issue. Party representatives are not responding to questions raised by media persons about the issue.
According to Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, AAP candidate from Payal constituency, Manwinder Singh Giaspura, told him that AAP supremo, Arvind Kejriwal, is aware of the issue.
“AAP MLA from Talwandi Sabo, Prof. Baljinder Kaur, told me that Arvind Kejriwal has told her that AAP’s Delhi government will not take a decision on Prof. Bhullar’s release for the time being as it may pose adverse effect against AAP’s prospects to bag Hindu votes in Punjab”, maintained Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur.
What Bhagwant Mann Recently Said on Prof. Bhullar’s Case:
After Bhagwant Mann was announced as the CM face of the Aam Aadmi Party in the upcoming Punjab elections, a TV84 journalist questioned him about “injustice” done by AAP by withholding Prof. Bhullar’s release. Bhagwant Mann said that the AAP government in Delhi will take a decision ‘as per the law’. He said that the file of release of Prof. Bhullar was with L-G (lieutenant governor) of Delhi.
Responding to this comment, Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur said that was a welcome update, if true. “If Bhawant Mann is speaking the truth that the file of release of Prof. Bhullar was with the Delhi L-G, then it was a welcome update because only those files go to L-G that are passed by the state government’s sentence review board. If the file is truly with the L-G, then it means it has been cleared by the Delhi government”, said Advo. Manjhpur while adding “[b]ut if it is untrue, then it is a very cruel joke by Bhagwant Mann”. He said that he was inquiring from the Delhi government about the status of the file in wake of Bhagwant Mann’s 18 January statement.
Sikh Activists Announce to Stop and Question AAP Candidates:
Different Sikh groups held meetings at Amritsar and Bathinda on January 20. Similar decisions were announced after these meetings. Addressing a press conference at Amritsar, Sikh activist, Bhai Narain Singh Chaura, informed the media that Sikh bodies have decided to stop and question Aam Aadmi Party candidates about Prof. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar’s release in the coming days.
“We have decided to serve an ultimatum to the Aam Aadmi Party. AAP should come clear on the issue of Prof. Bhullar’s release by 26th of January. In case AAP fails to do so, we will stop Aam Aadmi Party’s candidates from January 27 and question them about Prof. Bhullar’s release”, said Bhai Narain Singh.
Addressing media persons after holding a similar meeting in Bathinda, Sikh activists, Bhai Hardeep Singh Dibdiba and Baba Hardeep Singh Mehraj, said that they have served a six-day ultimatum to the Aam Aadmi Party and if AAP fails to clear Prof. Bhullar’s release before that date, they would gherao AAP candidates and question them regarding why Arvind Kejriwal and his Delhi government was withholding Prof. Bhullar’s release.
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