Supporters of Gurbaksh Singh, who is on a fast demanding release of Sikh prisoners who have purportedly completed their terms, said on Wednesday that the former militant feels the government should, for now, focus on the release of seven prisoners listed by him.
Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad, president of the All India Sikh Students’ Federation, who made a list of 85 prisoners, said immediate attention should be given to the release of those listed by Gurbaksh: “The list I prepared should be taken up later.”
Peer Mohammad and a host of other supporters of Gurbaksh rushed to Gurdwara Lakhnaur Sahib at Ambala on Wednesday after a rumour that his health was at a critical level. “We met him, and he is fine. He made it clear that his list of seven prisoners be considered first,” said Peer Mohammad.
On Gurbaksh’s list is 50 year-old Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, who was awarded death sentence in a 1993 blast case by a Delhi court last year; his death sentence was converted into life imprisonment by the Supreme Court on medical grounds. Lodged in Tihar Jail since 1995, he was convicted of the September 1993 bomb attack on Youth Congress chief MS Bitta that had left Bitta injured but killed nine others. Bhullar was arrested while trying to escape to Germany in December 1994.
The list also has Lakhwinder Singh alias Lakha, 43, Gurmit Singh, 44, and Shamsher Singh, 52, all three involved in Beant Singh assassination case, lodged in Burail Jail, Chandigarh, for 19 years on a life sentence.
There is also Gurdeep Singh, 54, serving life sentence in two separate cases and is lodged in Gulbarga jail, Karnataka, for 24 years. Lal Singh in lodged in the Nabha jail in Punjab for over 22 years in a life sentence for a terror case registered in Ahmedabad. Waryam Singh, 70, is in a Bareilly jail in UP for the past 23 years serving life sentence in a TADA case.
Technically, a life sentence means in jail till death. But states have different rules for consideration for premature release after serving a minimum period.
13 The list sent by Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal to Union home minister Rajnath Singh. Besides seven persons listed by Gurbaksh Singh, it has Gurmeet Singh Fauji, jailed in Rajasthan, having completed nine of 10 years’ term; Daya Singh Lahoria in Delhi’s Tihar Jail, completed 10 years of life sentence; Beant Singh assassination convicts Paramjit Singh Bheora and Jagtar Singh Hawara, both in Tihar, having undergone incarceration of 19 years; and Subeg Singh and Nand Singh, incarcerated for 15 years at Chandigarh. There is another list of 13 prepared by NGO Sikh Relief that adds six names to Gurbaksh’s list.
85 List of 85 Sikh prisoners prepared by AISSF president Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad; shortened version of list of 120, excluded 35 who have either been given bail or acquitted already.
120+ Original with 119 names was prepared by advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur of the SAD (Panch Pardhani), was released jointly by SAD (PP) and NGO Sikhs for Human Rights International in 2013. Name of a prisoner lodged in Jammu was added. It includes two prisoners facing death and 16 on life sentence. On December 30 last, Manjhpur also included 17 lifers, eight senior citizens serving 10-year terms, and 56 others. On Tuesday, he included two more, one of which is Beant Singh assassination accused Jagtar Singh Tara held in Thailand on Monday.