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Dal Khalsa writes to Amnesty International ; catalogues violations of rights of prisoners and political dissenters in Punjab in the recent times

January 4, 2011 | By

Amritsar (January 04, 2010): In a significant move, the Dal Khalsa has requested Amnesty International to send its team to Punjab to look into the violations of rights of prisoners and political dissenters going on with impunity in Punjab in the last one year.

In letter addressed to Director Amnesty International, Dal Khalsa’s political secretary Kanwar Pal Singh catalogues violations of rights of prisoners and political dissenters in Punjab in the recent times. Hoping that the New Year may bring forth more respect for human rights world-wide and may many more countries abolish death penalty as a result of sustained campaign by Amnesty, the leader of the Sikh group has argued that the state of Punjab continues to reel under custodial torture, illegal detention, harassment and long confinement in jails.

For the first time, the group has taken up the cases of rights violations of pharmacists, ETT teachers, unemployed linemen of Electricity Board, female Multi-purpose health workers, Unemployed Bachelor of Education teachers, veterinary doctors, farmers, employee’s of a Sugar Mill beside Sikh radicals.

Listing the detailed cases of police brutalities against cross section of the society, the letter states that in recent times, the police of Punjab with full patronage of the political leadership have perfected the art of public torture in full public view by resorting to cane-charge in the name of restoring law and order. This has been going on in full media glare without any shame, remorse and with full impunity.

In a 5 page letter faxed to Amnesty’s head office at London, the Sikh group urged the World’s premier Human Rights Institution to raise its concern about the human rights situation in Punjab “as we continue to live in dangerous times”. The letter alleged that “we still live in the shadows of a past under the brutal jackboots of the entire state machinery about which there has been absolutely no accountability and the issues that led to what came to be known as the Punjab problem still persist.

The letter slammed the Punjab government for slapping the amended Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 against political dissenters including Daljit Singh- a key (radical) figure. “Today it sounds clichéd to talk of respect for human rights in Punjab”, reads the letter.

Urging the Amnesty to declare SAD (Panch Pardhani) chairman Daljit Singh as ‘prisoner of conscience’, the letter stated that “he is a political dissenter and the present government seems determined to extend his incarceration in view of the impending SGPC elections and concocted threat perception theories. As Amnesty International takes cases of people who are arrested for their beliefs as “prisoners of conscience”, the case of Daljit Singh, is a fit one”.

The Dal Khalsa has also provided Amnesty with two cases whose detention has exceeded beyond punishment. Lal Singh and Major Singh both lodged at Nabha Jail have served 18 and 20 years behind bars respectively though the maximum imprisonment is 14 years.

Providing catalogue of unlawful arrests and detentions, the communiqué states that in the last one year, under one pretext or another, but ostensibly with the same-old reason of curbing militancy in Punjab, there have been a string of arrests.

Taking a dig at Punjab government for giving more impunity to the police force, the letter pointed out that, “as if the impunity enjoyed by the police in Punjab under various laws was not enough, in the year 2010, two new laws having draconian clauses were passed by the Punjab legislature giving sweeping powers to the police. The group requested Amnesty to write to the Governor of Punjab regarding the draconian provisions of the two new bills mentioned in the letter.

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