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CHANDIGARH: Sikh activist Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa is ending his 41-day fast here undertaken to secure the release of six Sikh political detainees in various jails in the country. The jail terms of some of the detainees have expired.
Khalsa’s decision to end fast comes after Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh and Keshgarh Sahib Jathedar Mal Singh met him for three hours at the fast venue of Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali on Wednesday and appealed to him to end the fast as his demands have largely been met.
Khalsa, who has now been admitted to Fortis Hospital in Mohali, is being taken to Amritsar where he will end the fast at the Golden Temple.
He has been on fast-unto-death since Nov 14 to put pressure on authorities to release the six Sikh detainees whom he thinks are political prisoners.
The authorities released Gurmeet Singh, who has been jailed in connection with the assassination of former Chief Minister Beant Singh since 1995, on a 28-day parole from Burail Jail near here on Wednesday. “I hope other Sikh detainees will also come out of jails soon,” said Gurmeet Singh after his release.
He met the fasting leader Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa and thanked him for his release on parole. He has been ordered to stay at his house in Patiala during his parole and not venture out.
The authorities said they are also processing the parole applications of Gurmeet Singh’s two accomplices – Shamsher Singh and Lakhwinder Singh – and they will be released soon.
Earlier, Gurmeet Singh and his two accomplices had refused to come out on parole and insisted that they be given premature release from jail. But because of the deteriorating condition of the fasting Sikh leader, the families of the three detainees agreed to their release on parole.
Earlier on December 20, another detainee Lal Singh of Akalgarh near Phagwara, who was arrested in 1992 and later convicted to life term by a TADA court for possessing illegal weapons, was given six-week parole from Nabha Jail.
Two other detainees – Gurdip Singh in Gubarga Jail in Karnataka and Wariyam Singh in Pilibhit Jail in Uttar Pradesh – are also likely to be released soon.
There has been apprehension in various quarters, including the Akali Dal and the BJP, that the release of these detainees may not be conducive to peace in Punjab.
But because of the pressure on his government, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal spoke with his counterparts in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka as well as central BJP leaders about the release of the detainees.