Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday said his government would release 550 prisoners as a humanitarian gesture to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
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 and release the 550 prisoners.
Mr Singh, in an official statement, also thanked Union Home Minister Amit Shah for accepting the state government's proposal to grant special remission to nine Sikh prisoners across the country.
The chief minister welcomed 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.
Mr Singh's response came after the Centre decided to release eight Sikh prisoners, lodged in different jails in the country for committing crimes during the militancy period in Punjab, and commute the death sentence of another Sikh prisoner to life sentence.
In a letter dated September 14, Mr Singh had urged Amit Shah to accept the state government's formal proposal as a "goodwill gesture" on humanitarian grounds.
He said these prisoners had served their time and were now old. They deserved a chance to be reunited with their families and spend the remaining time of their lives with their kin, he said.
Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah for the announcement.
"... We are very sure that this is just the starting point of the process to the review and release of all Sikh prisoners who had either served their full term or had been forced into unlawfulness under extenuating religious and emotional circumstances," Mr Badal said in a statement here.
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