Peaceful Human Rights Activist On Hunger Strike Since January 16
Sikh communities of India are praying for Baba Surat Singh Khalsa who is on hunger strike from 16th January, 2015 demanding permanent release of certain Sikh political prisoners who have completed minimum mandatory terms of their sentences and now eligible to avail benefits of premature release.
Who is Surat Singh Khalsa?
Surat Singh Khalsa (born 7 March 1933), also known as “Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa” is a civil rights and political activist, from the Indian state of Punjab. Surat Singh has a proven track record of non-violent protest. His resignation from government service as a school teacher in response to the attacks in Punjab in 1984, or the more recent hunger strikes in solidarity with the anti-corruption protests by Anna Hazare, speak to an honest and heroic track record.
On 11 February 2015, Surat Singh Khalsa wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi explaining the motive of his hunger strike. In his letter, Surat Singh Khalsa summed up his demands in two points –
- Treat all Sikh prisoners –under trials and those sentenced in cases relating to the Sikh struggle- as political prisoners.
- Release all prisoners who have completed their full jail terms and are legitimately due for release, exactly in the same manner, as other prisoners are so released in various other parts of the country.
But Is his demands valid?
Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, the lawyer aiding Surat Singh, said that the list discussed by the DGP contained 200 names, of which an estimated 70 to 75 prisoners have indeed served over 15 to 20 years of their jail term. Arjun Sheoran, a lawyer associated with People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), said that the Punjab government’s claim that the state was unable to act because of a Supreme Court stay on release of life prisoners in 2014 was inaccurate and that an interim application could be filed.”
“The PUCL is shocked at the cruel and callous manner in which the Punjab Police, with the support of medical authorities, have reportedly stitched a food pipe to his [Surat Singh’s] forehead to force-feed him, breaking his fast in a manner reminiscent of the way in which [Manipuri activist] Irom Sharmila has been force-fed over many years,” it said.
The “unhygienic, unscientific” act had caused an infection on the activist’s forehead, the PUCL said.
“If true, it amounts to inflicting torture, inhuman, cruel, degrading and illegal treatment. Bapu Surat Singh is engaged in a non-violent, democratic act of asserting his right to protest. The State is denying him his right to protest with human dignity,” the organisation said in a statement. “It is imperative that the Punjab government responds with a sense of urgency and alacrity to the democratic demands of Bapu Surat Singh, who seeks the release of all prisoners who have completed their term but have been kept in jail for many years.”
Its high time that India Government talks to him and discuss a solution so that he breaks his fast, otherwise we will lose a heavenly soul Like Bapu Surat Singh.
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