AMRITSAR SAHIB, Punjab—Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa, an octogenarian fasting Sikh activist has been left alone by the very Sikh leaders who once claimed themselves to be plaintiff of Bapu’s stance to free Sikh political prisoners. Absence of these leaders had become noticeable soon after the murder of Bapu Ji’s son-in-law Satwinder Singh Bhola in August 2015, but these leaders have now given official confirmation in this regard by totally sidelining the issue of political Sikh prisoners.
Sangarsh Committee Members Show Their Backs to Political Prisoners
Last week while announcing the cadre of United Akali Dal, the UAD President Bhai Mohkam Singh and General Secretary Gurdeep Singh Bathinda laid stress on raising three decades old issues but did not utter even a single word about Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa’s struggle. The UAD leaders announced to mark anniversary of the Dharam Yudh Morcha on August 4 but refrained from talking about the release of Sikh prisoners of this Morcha.
Similarly, these leaders have only visited Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa a handful of times ever since his son Ravinder Jeet Singh Gogi returned to the United States. As the coordinator of the Sangarsh Committee, Gurdeep Singh Bathinda paid a symbolic visit to Bapu Surat Singh on June 17, but has not organized a single program to gather support for his struggle in past year and half.
Meanwhile, as these leaders have realized that they no longer have the willpower to fight for the release of political Sikh prisoners, they are now looking for other campaigns to upkeep their “Panthik image”. One of these campaigns will be to free Gurdwaras from control of the Akali Dal (Badal).
Bhai Mohkam Singh, who is renowned among Sikh activists for maintaining double standards for sake of his political career, has announced the cadre of United Akali Dal in the wake of upcoming SGPC elections. Interestingly, as the Akali Dal (Badal) is facing swift competition in the upcoming SGPC elections, United Akali Dal has now emerged as the third front, which could possibly split Panthik votes.
Struggle for Political Prisoners Still Alive
After 950 days of peaceful hunger protest, while there maybe an absence of ground level movement in Punjab, the sangarsh is being kept alive alone by Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa in Punjab and in abroad by Sikh Youth through activism and art. Several Gurdwaras in USA, UK and Canada have announced to dedicate the month of November to Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa’s struggle and the victims of 1984 anti-Sikh massacres by holding blood donation drives and art exhibitions.
Similarly, social media campaigns have ensured that Indian politicians do not forget Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa. Recently, over 2,000 emails were sent to Capt. Amarinder Singh from the website www.FreeSikhPrisoners.com. A Twitter campaign will take place on August 20 to target the Punjab Chief Minister and other Government officials to raise awareness.
Non-Punjab Politicians Raise Issue of Bapu’s Struggle
Although Punjab’s politicians may have purposely sidelined Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa’s struggle, prominent leaders like Dr. Subramaniam Swamy and UK MP Tanmanjit Singh Dhesi have recently raked up the issue of political Sikh prisoners with Union Home Minister and Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh respectively but their efforts are unexpected to bear fruit in the absence of the Bandi Singh Rehai Sangarsh Committee.
Dr. Swamy tweeted the response he received from Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in which Singh states the government will examine the issue of the release of prisoners, for appropriate action. Similarly, the issue gained attention when UK Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi posted on his Facebook account that he had met with Captain Amarinder and discussed many issues, including the release of Sikh political prisoners. He also stated in a Punjabi news interview that this is an important topic and steps should be taken to release these prisoners (at 1:55 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww5EnpLUJio)