Guru Nanak’s birth anniv: Centre to release 8 Sikh prisoners, commute death penalty of 1 to life termUpdated: Sep 29, 2019, 00:49 IST
Eight Sikh prisoners, lodged in different jails across the country in cases registered against them for offences committed during the militancy period in Punjab, will be released by the central government on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November as a humanitarian gesture.
The Union home ministry also announced that through a special remission, the death sentence of another Sikh prisoner was commuted to life imprisonment.
Recently, the Punjab government had sent a list comprising the names of Lal Singh, Dilbagh Singh, Saran Singh, all lodged in the high-security Nabha jail, Hardeep Singh and Baj Singh, lodged in Amritsar central jail, Nand Singh (Patiala central jail), Subheg Singh (Ludhiana central jail), Gurdeep Singh Khera (Gulbarga central jail in Karnataka), and Waryam Singh (Bareilly central jail in UP) for remission.
The list was sent following a meeting between Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Union home minister Amit Shah on September 3.
State government officials declined to comment whether the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for the assassination of former chief minister Beant Singh, was commuted to life sentence.
“We are yet to get the final list,” said a senior official.
The Centre took the decision to grant “a special dispensation” to nine Sikh prisoners from various jails in the country on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, a Home Ministry spokesperson said. These individuals were convicted by various courts in the country, the spokesperson said.
The decision was taken by the government as a token of goodwill in response to the long-pending demands of the release of Sikh prisoners articulated by various sections of the Sikh community.
A communication to this effect was sent on Saturday to the state governments and union territories concerned for release of the Sikh prisoners.
The 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak will be in November.
Also, the government is planning to release more prisoners from jails across the country under the scheme for special remission to prisoners to commemorate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
So far, 1,424 prisoners have been released by states and UTs in two phases (October 2, 2018 and April 6, 2019).
The third phase of release is due on October 2 and action is underway by states and UTs, the spokesperson said.