Updated: May 17, 2022 6:37:14 am
When, on May 19, Sukhbir Singh Badal sits as part of a committee to discuss ways and means to get Sikh prisoners released, he will be sharing the platform with Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjeet Singh Mann and preacher Baba Baljit Singh Daduwal, two men who were booked for sedition in 2015 when SAD-BJP government was in power in Punjab. At that time, Sukhbir was the deputy chief minister and home minister in the government led by his father and Akali patron Parkash Singh Badal.
Also, sitting with the Shiromani Akali Dal chief as part of the nine-member panel formed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee will be his arch rival and Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) president Paramjit Singh Sarna.
The other members of the joint committee announced and headed by SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami include head of Damdami Taksal Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa on behalf of Sant Samaj, head of Tarna Dal Harian Vela Baba Nihal Singh on behalf of Nihang Singh Jathebandis, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Harmeet Singh Kalka, and former DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK.
In 2015, Mann’s party had played a key role in organising Sarbat Khalsa to appoint Dhian Singh Mand as a parallel acting Akal Takht Jathedar. Soon after the Sarbat Khalsa concluded, the Punjab Police had booked Mann, Daduwal and several other on charges of sedition. Many of the organisers were arrested too.
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Earlier, on the orders of the Akal Takht, the SGPC had convened a panthik convention at the Teja Singh Samundri Hall on May 11, in which Dhami was given rights to form a joint committee to seek release of the Sikh prisoners.
“The nine-member joint committee has been formed to make joint panthik efforts for the release of Sikh prisoners. The committee will work in support of organisations and personalities actively working for the release of Sikh prisoners. The suggestions received from the Sikh organisations will also be respected and, if need be, the committee would be expanded,” Dhami said.
He said the first meeting of the committee has been called at Amritsar on May 19.
Reacting to development, Congress MP Ravneet Bittu said he will oppose any efforts to get freed terrorists including those convicted for plotting and executing his grandfather and then Punjab CM Beant Singh’s assassination.
“The nine-member committee has been formed by the SGPC president to facilitate pardon of the likes of Balwant Singh Rajoana and Jagtar Singh Hawara. We will form a group of people who, like us, have lost family members to terror attacks. Wherever the committee pleads the pardon of these terrorists, our group will raise awareness that if such people are released, many more people will lose their lives. We will demand that such terrorists should not be released at any cost,” Bittu said.
The Congress leader said that it was “shameful” that the committee, instead of helping thousands of terror victim families of Punjab, is solely focused on release of “hate spreading” terrorists. “Government should take strict action against them and file charges for anti-national activity,” he added.
Earlier, Sukhbir had termed the panthic convention as “historic”, stating that the Khalsa Panth has “responded in one voice” for the “common cause of release of Bandi Singhs (Sikh Prisoners).”
He had said that the Bandi Singhs have been languishing in jails far beyond their sentenced term. “They are there not because of anything they did for personal gain but out of pure religious sentiments. With the blessings of great Guru Sahiban, Khalsa Panth today showed complete unity in the struggle for their release,” he had said.
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