Going back on his commitment to the Akal Takht to end his fast-unto-death after the release of four former militants, Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa announced on Thursday that he would call off his hunger strike only if his demand for releasing all six ex-militants was met.
Of the six, Gurmeet Singh, one of the assassins of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, and Lal Singh have been released on parole. The others whose release Khalsa is demanding are Shamsher Singh and Lakhwinder Singh, both convicts in the Beant Singh assassination case; Waryam Singh, who is lodged in Bareilly jail (Uttar Pradesh); and Gurdeep Singh, who is in the Gulbarga jail (Karnataka).
"I will only end my hunger strike after all six are released, as this was my demand," Khalsa, a former militant, told mediapersons after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple here on Thursday.
Khalsa had earlier promised Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh that he would end his fast after Lakhwinder and Shamsher are released from Chandigarh's Burail Jail. On Waryam and Gurdeep, Khalsa had been given an assurance by the jathedar that the Punjab Government was taking up the cases for release with the respective state governments.
When asked about Khalsa's stand, Giani Gurbachan Singh said, "He will end his fast and have 'parshada' (langar) here on Friday soon after Shamsher and Lakhwinder's release. As per our directions, Khalsa got himself medically examined and his health is fine."
Earlier, on his arrival along with his supporters, Khalsa paid obeisance at the Golden Temple and then held a brief interaction with the jathedar at the Akal Takht. Khalsa said that he was here to participate in the 'akhand path' ceremony of the 'bhog' in room No 7 behind the Takht building. The 'bhog' organised by his supporters is for his well-being.
Khalsa has been on a fast-unto-death since November 14 at Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali. The Takht's appeal to end his fast came after the jathedar expressed concern over his deteriorating health.
When Khalsa arrived with some radical leaders, no leader of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) or of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) was present to welcome him at the shrine. Prominent among those who accompanied him here were Satnam Singh Paonta of Dal Khalsa, RP Singh of the Akali Dal (Panj Pardhani) and Karnail Singh Peer Mohammed, head of a faction of the All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF).
Paonta indicated that Khalsa would end his fast after the release of Lakhwinder and Shamsher. However, a number of other radical leaders who were present there contested his claim and said that the fast would end only after the release of all six ex-militants, as had been demanded when Khalsa went on a hunger strike.
Khalsa will stay in the Golden Temple complex for the night and take part in the 'akhand path'. He will take his decision to end the fast only after the 'path'.
"This was only the beginning to seek freedom for those held during militancy," Paonta added.