Chandigarh, 13 December 2014. Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to call an all-party meeting to allay the apprehensions of minorities on the issue of religious conversions even as he called upon the government to frame a law to restrict such conversions.
Talking to the media, Mr Badal said religious conversions could add to communal tensions and that this matter should be handled sensitively.
Responding to a media query regarding a demand raised by various Sikh organisations for the amendment of Section 25(B) of the Constitution, which includes Sikhs as a part of the Hindu community, Mr Sukhbir Badal said it is a universally known fact that Sikhs have a distinct identity.
“Sikhism is an independent race and the entire community has the same stand on this issue. There is no need for any second opinion on this issue.”
Talking about the release of Sikh prisoners languishing in jail despite completing their prison terms, Mr Badal said he had on his own initiative written to the Union Home minister and requested him to take up the issue of the release of Sikh detainees in jails outside Punjab.
He also clarified that life imprisonment implied a jail term for the convict’s entire life and not imprisonment for 14 or 20 years, and that remission could be awarded only by powers vested in the governors of the states.
He also said the Supreme Court had imposed a stay on releasing any detainees under the premature release policy in the entire country, and that because of this nothing could be done as of now at the state level.
“Still, on compassionate grounds we are trying to do as much as possible and the attorney-general of the state would be asked to take up the case with the apex court so as to work out a remedial course of action,” he added.