NEW DELHI: In a significant development, Punjab-based BJP leaders have met Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs, John Barla, and National Commission for Minorities Iqbal Singh Lalpura urging them to ensure release of Sikh political prisoners languishing in various Indian jails for decades.
As per the information shared by singer turned politician and BJP leader Jassi Jasraj, the delegation that called on the Union Minister, comprised 200 BJP Sikh leaders including former Minister Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Harinder Singh Kahlon, former MLA Fatehjung Singh Bajwa, former MLA Harjot Kamal, and former MLA Balwinder Singh Ladi.
Jasraj who was also part of the delegation, said, “The union minister was apprised of the condition of the Sikhs who have completed their jail terms but still are lodged in the jails. During the imprisonment, they have maintained discipline and respected rule of law. So, they must be released at the earliest. We urged him to convey our sentiments to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.
The Minister assured that the demand of Sikhs will be conveyed to the PM and Home Minister Amit Shah and the cases of pre-mature release will be considered seriously.
Lalpura said in a tweet, “It was an Honour to Meet the Sikh Delegation under the Leadership of Hon’ble Minister Shri John Barla Ji and Special thanks to Shri Dushyant Gautam ji (MP) who took time to guide us with his experience. It was overwhelming to understand the enthusiasm of the community to understand the Policies and Provisions offered by the Minority department of the Government of India under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister. The vision of the Hon’ble Prime Minister is to ensure every minority should feel safe and it’s department’s responsibility to ensure every Minority is benefitted with his vision”.(sic.)
It is pertinent to note here that the issue of political prisoners’ release has gained a new height after Akalis of all shades, like Sukhbir Badal and Simranjit Singh Mann, came together and attended a meeting focused on this issue at SGPC’s headquarter Teja Singh Samundari Hall on May 11.
At this meeting, three important resolutions were unanimously passed, which are as follows:
1. A joint action committee will be formed to ensure the release of political Sikh prisoners.
2. This joint committee will take up this issue with the Indian President, Prime Minister, Home Minister and various state chiefs where the matter of Sikh prisoners is lying pending.
3. If the BJP government doesn’t release the political Sikh prisoners, an intensified struggle will be launched.
It was also resolved at the meeting to appeal to all the Sikh MPs irrespective of their political affiliations.
Launchers appear abandoned: The struggle for the release of political Sikh prisoners was launched by Late Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh Khalsa in 2013 with the hunger strike. He had successfully secured parole of three Sikh prisoners namely Bhai Gurmeet Singh Engineer, Bhai Shamsher Singh and Bhai Lakhwinder Singh Lakha.
In 2015, octogenarian Sikh activist Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa took up this and ensured release of Prof. Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and Bhai Gurdeep Singh Khera on parole while enduring physical and mental torture by the SAD (Badal) led Punjab government.
He is still steadfast on his stance and is being force-fed by the Punjab government at DMC, Ludhiana.
However, the duo initiators of this struggle appear abandoned by the Sikh leadership now.