New Delhi, Jan 8: Notwithstanding the controversy, Punjab government today formally approached the Centre to seek release of terrorists of the state "who have served their jail terms" and brushed aside the criticism, saying a "wrong impression" has been created.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh merely said that the matter will be "legally examined" when Punjab's Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal met him with the request. Badal, who was accompanied by SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar and SAD's leader in Parliament Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, presented representations for the release on "humanitarian grounds" the prisoners who have completed their jail term.
Brushing aside criticism for making the demand and being labelled as "anti-national", he said a "wrong impression" is being created against the state government that it was seeking release of prisoners without having completed their terms.
"We met the Home Minister Rajnath Singh with a request that people who have served their jail terms and completed them and as per law they are entitled for a consideration for release, their case should be sympathetically heard. We are not seeking for people who have not served their terms," he told reporters here.
He said there are a lot of people who have served their sentences for 25 to 30 years and some of them have crossed the age of 90 years and have even turned blind. "We are asking for their release on humanitarian grounds," he said.
The Akali leader insisted that this was not the first time a state is making a demand for release of its prisoners having completed their terms. A row has been triggered after Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal wrote to his counterparts in five states some time back, demanding release of 13 terrorists, including killers of former Chief Minister Beant Singh. Congress yesterday said the matter was serious and wanted BJP to break its ties with Akali Dal.