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The World

October 01, 1985

The new chief minister of India's Punjab state ordered the release of 224 prisoners detained under the National Security Act and pledged to deal softly with Sikh extremists. Surjit Singh Barnala's moderate Akali Dal party won an overwhelming majority in last week's elections, returning the Sikh-majority state to local control after two years of federal rule from New Delhi. Thousands of Sikh separatists, including Barnala, were jailed last year, and Barnala has said that most of the 3,000 or so who remain in custody are innocent.

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