LONDON, UK—Around 1,000 Sikhs from across the UK are expected today to hold a Candlelit Vigil in Old Palace Yard, opposite the Houses of Parliament from 2-6pm. Around 20-30 Members of Parliament are expected to join Sikhs during the vigil and show support for the release of Sikh political prisoners.
There are prisoners like Professor Devinderpal Singh Bhullar and Balwant Singh Rajoana who are on death row, others who have completed their sentences but have not been released and some being held without trial.
Exactly 12 months earlier Sikhs submitted a 100,000+ petition to Downing Street calling for UK Government and international action regarding the death penalty in India, human rights violations and the treatment of minorities.
The plight of Sikh political prisoners who have already completed the terms of their sentences has recently been highlighted by Bhai Gurbaksh Singh who went on hunger strike on 14 November at Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Punjab.
Bhai Gurbaksh Singh is seeking the immediate release of:
- Bhai Gurmit Singh, Shamsher Singh, Lakhwinder Singh who have been confined in Burrail Jail, Chandigarh for 18 years since 1995
- Bhai Lal Singh who was arrested in 1992 by Gujarat police and is currently confined in Maximum security jail Nabha where he has been for 21 years; and
- Bhai Gurdip Singh who has been confined in Gurbarg Jail of Karnataka for the last 23 years.
They have all served their terms of sentence but are not being released by the relevant state governments.
Haryana police continued to harass the family of Bhai Gurbaksh Singh. They raided his house in search of old pictures and other information. The Mohali SSP issued a statement alleging that Bhai Gurbaksh Singh can be picked up any time when required.
On Wednesday 4 December Punjab Police blocked a solidarity march, manhandled and disrespected Sikhs leading the march, including the five ‘beloved ones’ that many of you will have seen at local Nagar Kirtans across major towns and cities across the UK.
On Thursday 5 December Bhai Gurbaksh Singh was arrested just before midnight by a squad of the Punjab Police dressed in plain clothes, posing as supporters of the protest. Members of the police party were allegedly inebriated and manhandled and assaulted Bhai Gurbaksh Singh and supporters who were in attendance at the time.
According to reports, Bhai Gurbaksh Singh was first taken to Mohali’s Phase VI Civil Hospital and then to Ropar Jail. Yesterday he was transferred again to hospital with a deterioration in his health.
Others have now gone on hunger strike and there is a real possibility of civil unrest if Punjab Police continue to use heavy handed tactics to prevent peaceful protests against human rights violations.