Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday clarified that his government had merely sent to the Union Home Ministry a list of all long-term TADA prisoners, and had no role in the Centre’s reported decision to release Chief Minister Beant Singh’s killer or any other particular prisoner.
His government had only sent the list of 17 prisoners held under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) in Punjab, as required by the Centre, which had taken an independent decision on the release of the prisoners, the Chief Minister said.
He also said the state government was yet to receive the names of the nine prisoners whom the Union Home Ministry had decided to grant special exemption.
Amarinder Singh was responding to reporters on the Congress stand on media reports suggesting that former Chief Minister Beant Singh’s killer, Balwant Singh Rajoana, was among the eight prisoners that the Centre had decided to release as a humanitarian gesture on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
Beant Singh, who played a crucial role in ending terrorism in Punjab, was assassinated on August 31, 1995.
Rajoana was in the list of the 17 submitted by the state government to the Centre as he was a TADA prisoner who had completed more than 14 years in jail, like the other prisoners on the list, he added.
The Congress stand on Beant Singh’s killers has always been clear and consistent that they should serve their full sentence, said Amarinder Singh.
He, however, added that he was personally against the death penalty, which he had also said back in 2012.
In his personal opinion, all cases of death penalty should be commuted to life imprisonment.
On reports of threats to peace in the state from the released TADA prisoners, the Chief Minister declared that he would not let anyone disturb harmony in the state.
“As an ex-Army man, I can assure people that we are fully prepared to counter any threat and will not let the peace of Punjab be disturbed under any circumstances,” he said.
Pointing out that Pakistan was also striving to destroy the state’s hard-earned peace by pushing terrorists and weapons into the state, Amarinder Singh said his government would take all possible steps to tighten security further.
The Chief Minister rubbished charges of the Congress promoting Khalistan, saying those were not even worth commenting on.
The Chief Minister, who was accompanying Congress candidate Sandeep Sandhu for the filing of his nomination papers for the Dakha bypoll, exuded confidence that the party would sweep all the four by-elections in the state.
The Congress was totally united, and the people of Punjab were with it, he asserted, adding that the party was receiving favourable inputs from all the four seats.
Describing Dakha as “my own constituency”, the Chief Minister said, Sandhu, who had been working for the party for the past 12 years, would ensure the development of the region and its people once elected.
In an informal chat with mediapersons, the Chief Minister dismissed the allegations of Harsimrat Kaur against his government, saying she was a totally incompetent Union Minister and if he had been in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s place, he would have removed her from the Union cabinet a long time back.
To a question on speculations that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP alliance would split in Punjab, Amarinder Singh said it was up to the Badal family or Prime Minister Modi to comment on this.-IANS news