PUNJAB: Members of the Sikh community attended Bathinda Central jail in large numbers to welcome the release of Bhai Harchand Singh (Mari Kamboke) on Wednesday.

Bhai Harchand Singh and Bhai Navtej Singh rose to international attention following the death of notorious murderer and rapist, Ajit Poohla.

A brutal killer, Poohla operated in the disguise as a Nihang under the patronage of the Punjab police and political figures. The self-styled chief of Tarna Dal was provided with 40 bodyguards and 72 arm licenses by the police and used his clout to take over several Gurdwaras and other properties in Punjab and Chandigarh. He used to move in a fleet of vehicles with “red beacons” on the top along with his armed brigade on his side.

Poohla and his gang were responsible for committing a multitude of heinous crimes and human rights abuses during the nineteen-eighties and nineties operating as the notorious ‘black-cats’ of the Punjab police. The crimes they were accused of included numerous rapes, kidnappings and the murder of multiple young Sikh men and their families.

On August 28, 2008, diesel was thrown on Ajit Poohla in his cell in Amritsar Central jail, where he was serving a sentence in a criminal case. He was subsequently set alight and was rushed to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, from where he was referred to Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, due to the seriousness of his burn injuries. He succumbed to his burn injuries while on route to Chandigarh.

The Amritsar police registered a murder case against Bhai Harchand Singh and Bhai Navtej Singh for the murder. The duo were under detention in another case when Poohla was detained at Amritsar Central jail in connection with killing of seven members of a Sikh family near Mehta Chowk.

Speaking upon his release, social activist Lakha Singh Sidhana (pictured below) said that Bhai Harchand Singh and Bhai Navtej Singh are the real heroes of the Sikh community and the youth need to take inspiration from them.