Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu walks out of jail after 10 months

PATIALA — Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had been serving time in Patiala central jail for a 1988 road rage death case, was released on Saturday, after nearly 10 months.

He emerged from the prison wearing a sky blue jacket, later than the anticipated afternoon release time, at 5.53pm.

After coming out of the jail, Sidhu slammed Centre, saying democracy in chains, institutions turned slaves.

“I was supposed to be released around noon but they delayed it. They wanted media people to leave. Whenever a dictatorship came to this country a revolution has also come and this time, the name of that revolution is Rahul Gandhi. He will rattle the govt,” Sidhu said.

“There is no democracy at present and there is a conspiracy to enforce President’s rule in Punjab. Minorities are being singled out. If you try to weaken Punjab, you will become weak,” he added.

Sidhu described Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann as “akhbari mukhmantri” and criticised his government over law and order and debt issues.

In an apparent reference to Sikhs, who are a minority community in the country, Sidhu said, “There is a minority rule in Punjab. Wherever the minority is in majority…the Centre hatches conspiracy (against it).”

He alleged first a law and order problem is created. “After that, there is an attempt to control it and then they say, we have brought peace,” he said.

“If you weaken Punjab, then you will become weak yourself. No government can become strong by weakening Punjab,” he said.

Supporters of the 59-year-old had gathered outside the jail since morning to welcome him upon his release, chanting ‘Navjot Sidhu zindabad’.

Various Congress leaders, including Amritsar MP Gurjit Aujla, former Punjab Congress chiefs Shamsher Singh Dullo, Mohinder Singh Kaypee and Lal Singh, former MLA Navtej Singh Cheema, as well as other leaders Ashwani Sekhri and Sukhwinder Singh Danny, were also present, awaiting Sidhu’s return.

The former state Congress chief was jailed on May 20 last year after being sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment by the Supreme Court over the death of the 65-year-old Gurnam Singh in a road rage case in 1988.