Ultra may be transferred from Karnataka jail to Punjab

The Karnataka government has asked Punjab if the transfer of former militant Gurdeep Singh Khera, who has been lodged in the Gulbarga Central Jail in Karnataka for nearly 23 years, was acceptable to the state, sources said.

Karnataka’s response follows a plea by the petitioner through his counsel Navkiran Singh in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking transfer to a jail in Punjab. 
Khera, 52, was arrested in 1990 and later convicted in two separate terror cases in 1996 and 2001 in Delhi and Karnataka respectively. He has served 23 years of actual sentence. Sources said the Karnataka prisons department wrote to the additional director-general of police (prisons) in Punjab, seeking name and location of the jail in Punjab where Khera would be lodged in case he was transferred.

Sources said the communiqué also sought permission for transfer under reciprocal transfer arrangement Khera’s transfer would materialise only if the Karnataka government approved of the exercise. Navkiran Singh had urged the government to transfer Khera to the Amritsar Central Jail. Khera is from Amritsar.

Certain radicals and Sikh organisations in Punjab and elsewhere have been demanding the release of six Sikh convicts, including Khera, for some time now. They claimed that all these prisoners served their sentences. Khera was convicted under TADA and denied parole, they said.

The letter to the Karnataka home secretary and IG, Prisons, in November last year had sought the release of Khera on the grounds that he should be detained near his home so that friends and relatives could visit. The plea quoted Section 3 of the Transfer of Prisoners Act which states that a prisoner can be transferred to his home state with consent of the other state government, in this case Karnataka.

The letter said a prisoner should be transferred to his home state so that “reform process is able to create circumstances for the prisoner to reform”.

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