Chandigarh: Voices to save Khalistani terrorist Devender Pal Singh Bhullar from the gallows are growing in Punjab as T-shirts donning his image with a noose around his neck are doing the rounds and people from all walks of life are pledging their support.
Some Punjab-based radical Sikh groups are distributing these T-shirts at large gatherings, processions and outside prominent gurudwaras (Sikh shrines) across the state.
"We are getting the T-shirts from Ludhiana and they are a big hit among youngsters. I had placed an order of 5,000 T-shirts and so far over 2,500 have been sold out," Gurkirpal Singh, who is selling them outside the Amb Sahib gurudwara in Mohali,said.
Priced at Rs.120 each, these T-shirts have also been distributed free-of-cost by radical Sikh groups in cities like Mohali, Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar over the past few days.
Bhullar, whose mercy plea was rejected by President Pratibha Patil recently, is a Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) terrorist sentenced to death for a 1993 car bomb attack in the heart of New Delhi that killed 12 people and injured 29.
Punjab`s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal government and the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) had sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to save Bhullar`s life.
Gursatjit Sandhu, an engineering student from Mohali, said: "We all stand by Bhullar and want our government to grant him mercy. All my friends have bought these T-shirts and we are proudly wearing them. They also look quite stylish."
Avtar Singh Makkar, president of the SGPC - the mini-parliament of Sikhs, is very enthusiastic over this initiative.
"Now member of every family of Punjab will be aware about Bhullar. This campaign is fast picking up and gradually it will also make its presence felt in the whole country," Makkar said.
Convicted in 2001, Bhullar`s mercy petition was pending with the president since January 2003. He was deported to India from Germany in 1995 and has been lodged in the high security ward in the Tihar Jail.
He was sentenced to death Aug 25, 2001, and the Supreme Court dismissed his special leave petition Dec 27, 2006.
Besides Bhullar, T-shirts with the image of Sikh ideologue Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale are also popular among Punjab youths.
Bhindranwale, a former head of the radical Sikh religious organisation Damdami Taksal, had organised and led a big force of heavily armed Sikh volunteers, demanding a separate Sikh nation called Khalistan.