Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar on Saturday advised Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM chief and three-time Lok Sabha member from Hyderabad, not to link the death penalty awarded to 1993 Mumbai serial blast convict Yakub Memon to religion.
Responding to questions from the media over Owaisi's statement that no distinction should be made on the basis of religion when it came to executing death sentences handed down by courts, Makkar said, "It is unfortunate that he has chosen to link religion with the verdicts of courts. In the eyes of the court all are equal, whether they are from the majority community or from the minority."
On the Hyderabad MP's claims that the death sentences of the killers of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh and a few others had not been carried out as they had the support of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the SGPC chief said that while passing judgment, the judiciary is not swayed by political leanings of convicts.
"Kindly do not hurt our religious sentiments through such statements. This kind of thinking only creates friction among religious communities," he said with reference to the statement. He made it clear that the SAD or SGPC was not supporting convicts like Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, whose death penalty was commuted to life term, merely on religious grounds. He said their support for Bhullar revolved on the principles of justice as due to the long years he had already spent in prison his health had deteriorated.
SGPC to help in parole of convicts
Makkar clarified that notwithstanding the Supreme Court's judgment the SGPC would continue in its efforts to seek parole for Sikh convicts whose release is being demanded by Surat Singh, who had gone on hunger strike to demand the release of around 65 convicts who were booked in militancy-related cases.
"We will continue to fight their cases in court so that they get parole. But this will be subject to the condition that the relatives or family members of these convicts must themselves come forward before the SGPC with the cases," he added.
He said the son of TADA detainee Waryam Singh, who is in Uttar Pradesh's Pilibhit jail, had approached him for seeking his father's release. He pointed to his meeting with UP governor Ram Naik in this context.
"However, now the Supreme Court ruling debarring state governments from releasing TADA detainees or those who were arrested in the CBI-investigated cases, has shut the lid on the release of a number of Sikh convicts held in TADA cases. But still we will continue in our quest and are getting the apex court order examined by legal experts," he added.
Regarding Surat Singh's protest, Makkar said the SGPC would continue to lend support to his cause. If the release of TADA convicts was not possible, at least the SGPC could put up their cases for parole, he added.