Protests in Punjab for release of ‘Bandi Singhs’: Who are they?
Why is the issue of Bandi Singhs being raised again in Punjab? How have the different political parties, including the BJP, in power at the Centre, and AAP, in power in the state, reacted? Who are Bandi Singhs? ‘Bandi Singhs’ is a term given to Sikh prisoners who were convicted for involvement in militancy in Punjab and are still in jails in various parts of the country. Since the militancy was wiped out in early 1990s, Sikh activists argue that the prisoners have already spent over three decades in jails, some are physically and mentally unfit, and hence, should be released. How many of them are in jails? According to Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, an activist working for their release, 20 Bandi Singhs are still in jail. Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, during his recent visit to Punjab, had said there was a list of 11 Sikh prisoners, out of which nine had been released. Manjhpur, however, contested the minister’s claim.