Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, the Sikh militant-turned-activist declared that he would end his indefinite fast for the release of six former Sikh militants convicted for life, after an Akhand Path (continuous recitation of sacred religious texts) at the Akal Takht in Amritsar on Friday.
Following the release on parole of two of the militants and the impending parole of another two, the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of Sikhism, issued an edict asking Gurbaksh Singh to end his fast.
Harpal Singh Cheema, acting president of the Akali Dal Panch Pardhani, a fringe radical group at the forefront of Gurbaksh Singh’s campaign, said: “We are demanding the complete release of these Sikhs under Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution, under which the appropriate authorities have the power to remit or commute a sentence.” Mr. Cheema said that though the two convicts sent on parole so far would be out only for a few days, he expressed hope that the parole would be extended and commuted in the days to come, because of Gurbaksh Singh’s activism.
All the six prisoners serving life sentences for various crimes committed under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) in Punjab were booked for their offences outside the State. While three of them — Gurmeet Singh, Shamsher Singh and Lakhwinder Singh were convicted for the assassination of Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, the other three — Lal Singh, Waryam Singh and Gurdeep Singh were convicted for possessing arms and explosives.
Following Gurbaksh Singh’s indefinite fast and the resultant emotional upsurge in the State, the Parkash Singh Badal government, apprehensive of a law and order problem, fast-tracked the parole proceedings of four former militants.