Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday appealed to Sikh activist Gurbakash Singh Khalsa, who has been demanding the release of six former militants who have completed their sentences, to end his fast, saying the state government had tried its best in this regard.
"Whatever the Punjab government could do, we have done it. Since no terrorist is in Punjab jail and they were not even arrested here, we are helpless in the matter," Badal said on the sidelines of a function organised by the Punjab chapter of the Indian Medical Association.
The chief minister said he had spoken to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister in connection with a former militant lodged in a jail there. "After I apprised him that the family of late Beant Singh was also in favour of releasing those involved, the UP chief minister acknowledged my concern. On Sunday morning, I was informed that the chief minister had forwarded my request to the governor. I also called up my Karnataka counterpart," Badal said, adding that this was the best his government could do. The chief minister said he had also raised the issue with the Gujarat chief minister for the release of a convict lodged in a jail there.
Badal was all praise for Beant Singh's family who, he said, were in favour of releasing those involved in the killing.
"I have also spoken to the BJP leaders and talked about maintaining peace in the state. They agreed. I appeal to Congress leaders not to play politics over the issue."
He said, "Punjab has paid a heavy price before peace and communal harmony returned to the state. But now a few people are again trying to vitiate the atmosphere."
Badal said a world-class cancer hospital on the lines of Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, was being set up at Mullanpur near Chandigarh the foundation stone of which would be laid by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on December 30.