Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has directed Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar to immediately establish contact with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to end the hunger strike of Gurbaksh Singh by securing the release of six Sikh detainees from prisons in Punjab and other states.
The jathedar is concerned over the deteriorating health of Gurbaksh Singh, who has been on fast-unto-death since November 14 at Gurdwara Amb Sahib in SAS Nagar, seeking the release of the six detainees, who are undergoing life imprisonment for their involvement in terrorist attacks. His contention is that all the six should be released on humanitarian grounds as they have spent 18-20 years in prison.
He has claimed that there are numerous cases in Punjab wherein those serving life term have been released on humanitarian grounds after spending 14-15 years behind bars. He has contended that all the six have passed their prime years and their release would not spell any trouble or danger.
"We all hail Gurbaksh Singh for his 'qurbani' (sacrifice) and his cause but then he must remember that life is very 'keemati' (prized) and everyone is concerned about his deteriorating health," the Jathedar said while talking to the media here on Friday.
Jathedar meets legal experts
Earlier, the jathedar held closed-door meetings with legal experts and others to solicit their views on the demand made by Gurbaksh Singh and his fast-unto-death. He sought their views on the possibility of securing the release of six people as demanded by Gurbaksh Singh.
Those who met the jathedar included SGPC member and advocate Bhagwant Singh Sialka, advocate Jaswinder Singh and Lakhbir Singh Sami, also an advocate. SGPC member Kiranjot Kaur also gave her point of view.
However, Daljit Singh, principal of local Khalsa College, could not attend the meeting as he is away to the US. SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh also failed to meet the jathedar.
Though the jathedar refused to disclose the viewpoints of those he had met, sources said all of them were of the view that if the Punjab chief minister intervened the release of all the six was possible on humanitarian grounds. On the basis of this advice, the jathedar directed the SGPC chief to meet the chief minister to discuss this issue and end the hunger strike of Gurbaksh Singh.
"The chief minister can talk to his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi or anyone else for securing the release of the youth who are in jails outside Punjab. This is the reason why I have asked Makkar to talk to the CM," stated the jathedar.
The militants whose release Gurbaksh Singh has demanded include Shamsher Singh, Gurmit Singh and Lakhwinder Singh, all of whom are lodged in Chandigarh's Burail Jail, Lal Singh, who was sentenced to life in Gujarat, Gurdip Singh, who is in a Karnataka prison, and Swaran Singh, who is behind bars in Uttar Pradesh.
The five-member committee formed by radical Sikh groups for taking up the release of the six detainees also submitted its viewpoint to the jathedar in writing.
The members of this committee include Harpal Singh Cheema of the Akali Dal (Panj Pardhani), Satnam Singh Paonta of the Dal Khalsa, RP Singh of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, GS Sidhu and Bibi Kashmir Kaur, both hailing from Chandigarh.
These groups had even taken out a march from Amritsar to SAS Nagar in support of Gurbaksh Singh sometime back. The Punjab government had tried to halt the march at Amritsar, but it was on the intervention of the jathedar that the march reached SAS Nagar.
Meanwhile, the jathedar also appealed to all to remain peaceful and not to take any step that could disturb the peace in the state.