Singers, politicians and Sikh religious leaders from Punjab and Haryana are making a beeline to Gurdwara Lakhnaur Sahib even amidst bone-chilling wind to meet Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, a former militant, now into the 52nd day of his indefinite fast, demanding the release of Sikh prisoners across the country who have completed their sentences, but continue to languish in jails.
Even as the VIPs continue to stream in, the man himself is angry at the Punjab government, the Akal Takht jathedar and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). The recent SGPC statement that there are 96 prisoners who have completed their terms, but continue to be imprisoned in Punjab’s jails itself has only provided fresh ammunition to Gurbaksh.
“Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh are misleading the public. The CM says that he has written letters to other state governments, but he must clarify what he has done for the release of Sikh prisoners in Punjab. Over the past year, the state government has not even filed its reply to a writ petition seeking the release of prisoners. Is the CM really serious on the issue?,” questioned Khalsa, who has lost nearly 20 kg since November last year, when he started his fast and has been surviving only on water.
“Instead of writing letters to others, Badal should ask officials to at least submit a written reply in court, stating that Punjab has no problem in releasing prisoners,” he said. “The CM must visit the PM over the issue,” he adds.
Attacking Akal Takht jatehdar Giani Gurbachan Singh, he claimed, “Last time, I ended my hunger strike on his assurance, but the jatehdar failed to keep his word. Now, he should issue a Hukamnana (edict) to the CM and the deputy CM to release the prisoners,” he says.
On whether he was aware that a Supreme Court ruling stopping the release of the accused in PM Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination could be a legal hitch, he said, “The least the Badals can do is to give an undertaking in court that Punjab wants to release these prisoners. Only then does writing to other CMs hold credibility.” Khalsa has already asked his supporters to hold peaceful protest marches on January 7 and submit a memorandum to district authorities for release of seven Sikh prisoners.
Meanwhile, politicians like AAP MP Harinder Singh Khalsa, noted Supreme Court lawyer HS Phoolka, religious leader Sant Baljit Singh Daduwal and others visited Singh on Sunday.