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Sikhs to demand answers from David Cameron on treatment of Sikh Political Prisoners in India

July 15, 2015 | By

London, UK: Thousands of Sikhs from across the UK are taking part in a protest in Parliament Square tomorrow between 11am-1pm to coincide with the last Prime Minister’s Questions before the recess. A number of Members of Parliament have confirmed with the Sikh Federation (UK) that they will be protesting between 11-11.50am alongside Sikhs in a show of solidarity. Hundreds of Sikhs who have arranged meetings with MPs are also expected to lobby them before and after Prime Minister’s Questions.

Sikhs are demanding answers about what the UK Government has done in the last few months to raise concerns about the plight of Sikh political prisoners in Indian jails. Some of them have been in prison for decades and most are in the sixties and seventies and should be released given their impeccable behaviour and on humanitarian grounds.

The Sikh Federation (UK) wrote to David Cameron and Phillip Hammond on 21 May and met with Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials dealing with India on the same day.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:  ‘The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary were asked to urgently take up the issue of the release of Sikh political prisoners in Indian jails who have completed the terms of their sentence. But we have had no answers.’

‘It is a sad reflection that the present UK Government is turning a blind eye to human rights violations of minorities in India fearing various trade deals could be jeopardised.’ , said he.

‘Not much has changed since 1984 and we have been forced to peacefully demonstrate at the lack of courage and action by the UK Government on behalf of British Sikhs.’, he added.

The matter has once again arisen as Bapu Surat Singh, an 83 year old Sikh activist who is a US resident is on hunger strike in India. Tomorrow marks the 180th day of his hunger strike and he is only surviving as he has been detained and force fed. His son a US citizen was detained by police for two months and tortured when he went to see his father in hospital. The Sikh Federation (UK) wrote to the US Ambassador in London on 11 May requesting US Government intervention and there has been some movement. However, a smaller protest is planned outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square between 2-3pm.

The plight of Sikh political prisoners is an emotive one for British Sikhs and Sikhs across the globe. The likely death of Bapu Surat Singh will create further agony and could result in serious unrest as the police in India are likely to use heavy handed techniques that will result in further loss of life.

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