The wife of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, convicted of the 1993 Delhi bombing, has accused the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi of ‘playing politics by not clarifying’ the case for the premature release of her husband because of the February 20 elections in Punjab.
Navneet Kaur’s allegations come days after Delhi Chief Minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal accused Shiromani Akali Dal of “playing politics” over Bhullar’s release and assured that the Commission of Sentencing Review (SRB) would take up the case as soon as possible and render its decision before the Lieutenant-Governor.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Navneet Kaur said the AAP was delaying the decision on Bhullar’s ‘release’ due to the ‘perception’ of ‘losing Hindu votes’.
“Members of the Hindu community are educated. It’s not that they won’t vote [if a decision to release Bhullar is taken]. They have that awareness,” said Navneet Kaur, adding that the AAP government in Delhi had “the power” to authorize the release, but “did not intend” to do so.
“Now we are losing faith in the law. Kejriwal says he [taking a decision on the matter] is not in his hands. How is it not in his hands? asked Navneet.
“They say that politics is at stake and that all parties are involved in politics. Some people say SAD and Congress are playing politics on the issue. But, in my opinion, the AAP itself is playing politics by not solving the case. What problem do they have? Why are they looking at it from a political angle? Why don’t they consider it from a humanitarian and legal point of view? Why are they saying they will look into it after the polls? We feel tortured with every passing moment. There are no obstacles from the center,” said Navneet Kaur.
She said Bhullar had been on parole “13 times” and that “all reports were correct”, “with the district firmly noting that there was no threat” from him. “I have not been approached by any political party. It is Sikh organisations, rights groups and religious organizations like the SGPC, who raise the issue to demand the release,” she added. Bhullar’s premature release made headlines again last month in Punjab when it emerged that the Delhi government’s SRB had rejected his plea at its meeting on December 11, 2020. Amid clamors from organizations and Sikh activists, SAD boss Parkash Singh Badal had also called for Bhullar’s “immediate release” “in the broader interest of building peace and communal harmony in Punjab.” minutes of the December 2020 meeting of the SRB, chaired by Delhi Home Minister Satyendra Jain, Bhullar’s premature release “at this stage” was rejected “after considering all the facts and circumstances of the case, i.e. involvement in anti-national/terrorist activities, seriousness and evilness of the crime and having a criminal history”.
Minutes of the meeting noted that Bhullar was being jailed in a case dating back to 1993 for offences, which included murder, attempted murder and under sections of the TADA Act recorded at Parliament Street, Delhi “for committing multiple murders in terrorist activity by explosion in a car outside Raisana Road on 11.09.1993”.
The meeting noted that Bhullar had suffered “imprisonment sentence of 23 years, 09 months and 17 days in reality as per the commutation roll dated 09.01.2019 received from Superintendent, Central Jail, Amritsar, Punjab”.
According to the minutes of the meeting, the Punjab police did not object to the premature release. Delhi Police Assistant Commissioner (Legal) objected to the premature release at the meeting. The Punjab Welfare Department, according to the minutes of the meeting, “neither recommended nor opposed in its report; The director of the Delhi social welfare department did not support his premature release during the meeting”.
Bhullar’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court on March 31, 2014. He was transferred to Amritsar Central Jail from Tihar Jail in June 2015. From Amritsar Jail, he was transferred to a government facility for psychiatric treatment. It continues to be there in the same establishment. Bhullar’s name was among eight prisoners whose cases were recommended by the Center to the respective states for special surrender and release under Article 161 of the Constitution to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev , the founder of Sikhism, in September 2019.
On December 9 last year, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition by All India Anti-Terrorist Front chairman Maninderjit Singh Bitta to oppose Bhullar’s release.
Navneet Kaur said the SRB, which rejected Bhullar’s premature release in 2020, should not have taken any decision in the case as Bitta’s petition was pending in the Supreme Court at that time. Navneet Kaur added: “We have not been informed that the case has been dismissed by SRB”.
Blaming AAP for “not solving” the problem that “not only Punjabis but NRIs also want to solve,” said Navneet Kaur, “AAP is a one-man party. They should have announced themselves against CM in Punjab. They should have made an effort to strengthen the party in Punjab. It was because of the Punjabis that they got votes in Delhi. The only state in the country that supported the AAP East Punjab The NRIs have largely supported the AAP over the past [Punjab] elections, but they are quiet now. Every NRI family has at least ten votes at home here in Punjab.