When militant Gurmeet Singh was sentenced in 1995, mobile phone was more than four years away and connectivity was a major problem.
On Wednesday, 18 years later, when he walked out of Model Burail jail in Chandigarh, and reached home, here, on a 28-days parole, a mobile everywhere surprised him. He was even more astonished to find technology in even minor activities like an automated car lock.
Gurmeet Singh with Bhai Gurbaksh Singh after coming out from Burail jail on Payroll after 18 years at Gurdwara Amb sahib on Wednesday. Keshav Singh/HT
"Things are so different. I will not have reached home, if I had come alone," he told a relative. Back home with people queuing up in the street of his house and women perching perched on terraces of their houses, he appealed for privacy. "Let me live with my family. I want to spend these 28 days with my mother and sister."
"I don't want to comment on or discuss my past. What is gone is gone. I do not want to remember it," he told reporters.
He thanked ex-militant Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa and the Sikh sangat for his release.
"I had lost hope of seeing my home in this lifetime. Till last month, there was no chance of coming out. However, Guruji (Khalsa) changed things. I thank almighty for my release." He did not comment on the state government's role in his release.
His mother Surjit Kaur also thanked Gurbaksh singh and others, who worked for the release of his son.
Before moving to his house, Gurmeet was taken to a gurdwara, where the family had organised an ardas to thank the almighty.
However, as he soaks in the freedom, he is likely to be hounded for some time. Reporters chase him for interviews, the radicals want to honour him and intelligence agencies are reported to be keeping close tab on his activities. For the curious young kids, a glimpse of him will suffice.