In a move that has the potential to create strong rift with the BJP, its alliance partner, the Akali Dal led Punjab government on Thursday stepped up the pressure for the release of 13 life termer terror convicts lodged in the jails of six different states and UT of Chandigarh.A delegation led by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the president of SAD, along with senior SAD leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar met union home minister Rajnath Singh to appeal for the release of terror convicts.The delegation asked Rajnath Singh to direct the various State governments holding Sikh detainees who have completed their required sentence and are eligible for release under the pre-mature release policy to free them forthwith.Towing his party’s line that differs with the Akali Dal, its alliance partner, on the issue, Rajnath Singh is understood to have politely declined any help in the matter. “Neither it is union government’s policy to seek premature release of terror convicts nor do the Centre has the locus standii to intervene in such matters. The ministry’s view is the law should take its own course in such matters,” union home ministry sources said.In Hyderabad, BJP president Amit Shah also made the BJP’s stand clear by stating that the party did not agree with Akali Dal’s demand. Junior Badal said he has urged the home minister to intervene as 182 lifers who were eligible for release under the pre mature release policy, the Punjab government could not exercise the power of remission following a restraining order passed by the Supreme Court in July 2014. “When a prisoner spends more than the stipulated period in jail but is still not released despite eligibility for the same it causes resentment amongst his near and dear ones and also gives rise for agitation among particular sections of society,” Badal said. Urging that the demand was not anti-national, Badal added “There are many prisoners who have served their sentence… There are people who are 80-90 years old. Some of them are blind. They have been in jail for 25-30 years. We are seeking their release on humanitarian grounds….Moreover, there is overriding sentiment in Punjab for them.”

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Akali Dal steps up pressure to release terror convicts