Ex-militant again threatens fast-unto-death for release of 6 militants
Former militant Gurbaksh Singh, who had gone on a 45-day fast in Novermber-December last year, demanding the release of six militants from jail, has once again threatened to go on a fast-unto-death if his demand is not met.punjab Updated: Aug 17, 2014 23:41 IST
Former militant Gurbaksh Singh, who had gone on a 45-day fast in Novermber-December last year, demanding the release of six militants from jail, has once again threatened to go on a fast-unto-death if his demand is not met.
He has set August 31 as the deadline for the release of Lakhwinder Singh, Gurmit Singh and Shamsher Singh, who are under detention in Chandigarh’s Burail Jail in the Beant Singh assassination case. The others in his list are Lal Singh, who is in a Gujarat prison; Waryam Singh, who is detained in the Bareilly jail; and Gurdeep Singh, who has been behind bars at Gulbarga jail in Karnataka for the past 20 years.
“I want their permanent release and not just release on parole. All six have completed their jail terms, so there is nothing wrong in setting them free,” said Gurbaksh Singh in an apparent reference to the parole that was granted to Lakhwinder, Gurmit and Shamsher that led to his ending his fast on the 45th day on December 27 last year.
Gurbaksh had set out on foot from SAS Nagar on August 10 along with relatives of some of the militants whose release he is demanding. Covering a distance of around 230 km he reached the holy city on Sunday and after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple he renewed his fast-onto-death threat.
Criticises Akal Takht jathedar
On reaching the shrine, he intended to meet Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and remind him of the assurance he had given him on getting all the six militants released. However, as the jathedar was out of station, the former militant presented a memorandum at the Akal Takht secretariat in which he reminded Giani Gurbachan Singh that despite his assurance the six militants continued to be behind bars.
“I had ended my fast-unto-death after the jathedar’s assurance. But I feel let down,” he told the media.
Gurbaksh demanded that the jathedar issue a directive to the Punjab government for getting the militants released. The Punjab government could persuade the governments of other states (where the militants are detained) to release them, he added. “If he cannot do so, then he should quit as jathedar,” he added.
Gurbaksh had started his fast-onto-death at Gurdwara Amb Sahib at SAS Nagar on November 14 last year. He had left SAS Nagar in the last week of December and reached Amritsar on December 26. On the following day, he ended his fast after the jathedar met him and assured him that efforts would be made to get his demand fulfilled.
While then the former militant had the support of the Dal Khalsa, the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and Akali Dal (Panj Pradhani), this time, however, none of these groups were present. On the contrary, a group calling itself the Damdami Taksal (Ajnala) confronted Gurbaksh and sought answers from him.
This group led by its head Amrik Singh Ajnala gathered at Ram Talai and tried to stop him from proceeding towards the Golden Temple. However, the police intervened and from there escorted the former militant and his group to the shrine, where Ajnala once again confronted him and asked him not to ‘mislead the Panth’.
“This is nothing but drama and aimed at getting mileage in the media. Why did he give up his fast earlier without getting his demand met; now again, he is up to the same drama,” Ajnala said, while spelling out his opposition to the former militant’s tactics.