Chandigarh, Punjab: Don’t draw Bhai saab into a conversation as it consumes energy, reads a message at a makeshift camp at Gurdwara Amb Sahib in SAS Nagar where 48-year-old Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa has been sitting on a fast unto death for the past 34 days.
Khalsa, who looks a shadow of his former self and is surrounded by a group of supporters, has been demanding the release of six Sikh political prisoners languishing in different jails despite having completed their sentences.
These are Lakhwinder Singh, Shamsher Singh and Gurmeet Singh lodged in the Burail jail in Chandigarh in connection with the assassination of Beant Singh. The others are Lal Singh lodged in Nabha jail, Waryam Singh in Bareilly jail and Gurdeep Singh Khaira lodged in a Karnataka jail. All three were booked in different unknown criminal cases.
“I am prepared to die and death would come any moment,” said Khalsa in a feeble voice lying on the ground. Khalsa has signed his will and has also offered to donate his organs. He sent his will and the wishing to donate the organs to the Akal Takht.
“Our government is not concerned about those languishing in jails and no one from the administration has come forward to enquire about my cause,” said Khalsa.
On December 12, Khalsa was forcibly picked up by the police and thrown in the ambulance and taken to the civil hospital and then lodged in a Ropar jail. After being released after three days he resumed his fast.
“No law prevails here. Khalsa was unceremoniously picked up, taken to hospital and then to jail,” complained a supporter.
Khalsa was released from Burail jail in 2010 after the Supreme Court granted him bail.“In the Burail jail, I met the three accused in the Beant Singh assassination and was moved to see their plight. Their families have been ruined; they have not been allowed to go out of jail for more than 18 years, so I decided to take up their cause,” said Khalsa as to why he decided to go on fast unto death.
Scores of actors including Gurpreet Ghuggi, Punjabi singer Pammi Bai, Gurdas Mann, Babbu Mann, Harbhajan Mann and Sufi singer Satinder Sartaj met Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa and extended their support.
Referring to Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution, advocate Amar Singh Chahal, who contested the case of these militants, said there is a strong legal provision of premature release of those sentenced to life imprisonment after completing a jail term of 14 years. There have been cases when premature release was allowed even after eight years.
“Everyone who is sentenced to life imprisonment is released after 14 years, but why are these six being discriminated against as they have not been allowed to come home even once on parole for the past 18 to 23 years since they are in jail,” said Chahal, adding that he had exhausted all legal and political channels for their release, but had failed.