Even as he thanked Union Home Minister Amit Shah for accepting the state government’s proposal to grant special remission to nine Sikh prisoners across the country to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday night announced his government’s decision to release 550 prisoners as a humanitarian gesture on the historic occasion.
The Chief Minister appreciated the Centre’s decision to accept the state’s plea for the release of TADA prisoners who had completed their sentence and whose release was not perceived to be prejudicial to the peace and security of Punjab or the country. In a letter dated September 14, 2019, the Chief Minister had urged Shah to accept the state government’s formal proposal as a `goodwill gesture’, on humanitarian grounds.
The Centre has now decided to commute the death sentence of one prisoner to life sentence and prematurely release eight others.
Expressing his gratitude to Shah for accepting the state’s plea, Captain Amarinder said these prisoners had served their time and were now old men who deserved the chance to be reunited with their families and spend the remaining time of their lives with their kin. These men are no danger to the society in any way, he said, adding that the 550th Prakash Purb was the ideal occasion to follow the first Sikh Guru’s ideology of compassion.
The Chief Minister’s response came in the wake of a communication from the Union Home Ministry that it had decided to grant a special dispensation to nine Sikh prisoners from various jails in the country on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev as a humanitarian gesture. The communication was sent to the state governments and Union Territories concerned for release of these Sikh prisoners. These prisoners were convicted by various courts in the country for offences committed by them during the militancy period in Punjab.
Most of the TADA prisoners had served life sentences ranging between 18 and 28 years and the Punjab government had, in its proposal, said it “feels that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India, should release such convicts/prisoners who are languishing in various Jails for too long but who in the assessment of the State government, no longer pose any threat to the society.” The state government, said the proposal, had no objection if these prisoners were released by the Union Home Ministry, in compliance with the law and various decision of the apex court.