Roused by the radicals' protest for the release of Sikh militants undergoing life sentence, the Punjab government has started a major exercise to create a database of all prisoners.
"I have directed the jail authorities to make a list of all prisoners, mentioning their sentences and parole granted to them," chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said, while denying that there was any pending case with the Punjab government for the release of any militant.
Refuting former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Sikh radicals' claim that nearly 100 prisoners were languishing in jails of Punjab and neighbouring states, the CM said "Let me make it clear that there are no such cases. There are only three-four TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act) convicts in Punjab and I will brief the media after getting details from the prisons department."
When asked whether former Sikh militants were political activists or criminals, Badal ducked the question. He said the ex-militants had been released after duly consulting the alliance partner (BJP).
On the delay on Punjab's part in granting parole, Badal said, "The government has to examine every case. Parole is the right of every prisoner."
He, however, added that life sentence meant jail term till natural death. "Life sentence does not mean a 14-year sentence," he said, denying that ex-militants had been detained beyond the maximum period of life sentence.
The chief minister said he had asked food and civil supplies minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon to give him a report on the recent requirement drive of inspectors in the food and civil supplies department. Certain issues have been raised in the media regarding the process of recruitment. Once I get a reply from him (Kairon), I will decide the course of action, the CM added.