New Delhi: In a significant development, the Central government on Saturday decided to release nine Sikh prisoners from various jails in the country on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on October 2, according to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sources.

“On the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev and as a humanitarian gesture, Government of India has taken a decision to grant a special dispensation to nine Sikh prisoners from various jails in the country,” MHA sources told ANI.

As a humanitarian gesture, the government decided to convert the death sentence of one prisoner to life imprisonment. And other remaining eight cases the prisoners will be released prematurely.

“In one case, the decision has been taken to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment, and in remaining eight cases, the decision has been taken for premature release of prisoners serving life sentences and other sentences, through special remission,” MHA sources added.

The gesture from the government also comes to commemorate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2.

“Under the scheme for special remission to prisoners to commemorate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, so far 1,424 prisoners have been released by states and Union Territories in 2 phases (October 2, 2018 to April 6, 2019). The third phase of release is due on October 2, 2019,” MHA sources added.

The move from the government comes after the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Wednesday in a letter urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately release all Sikh prisoners who are languishing in different jails of India. The SAD said these prisoners have served their jail term and still are inside the jail and hence they should be released as soon as possible.

“This gesture, urgently required to ensure the implementation of the rule of law in the country, will generate tremendous goodwill and trust in the minds of the aggrieved sections of society,” SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal wrote in the letter to the government.