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SOPW rebuts allegations of fund-raising for financing alleged revival of militancy

October 9, 2012 | By

London, UK (October 07, 2012): In a statement released on October 07, 2012 the Sikh Organization for Prisoner Welfare (SOPW) has rebutted the allegations that appeared in some news items in various newspapers in India that SOPW was indulged in fund-raising for reviving militancy in Indian state of Punjab.

“The Sikh Organisation for Prisoner Welfare (SOPW) is an independent, non-political non-governmental organisation (NGO) regulated by the UK government’s Charity Commission” read the statement which further adds that SOPW provide assistance to prisoners and their families who contacted it.

“Each case is decided upon its merits. The help takes the form of financial, material, medical, legal and moral assistance. Our activities to date have primarily been conducted in India and the UK”, it adds.

The UK based NGO, that is reportedly facing NIA (National Investigation Agency) investigations in India, has quoted High Court Judge, Justice V V Rao saying that “(The) Indian judiciary would take 320 years to clear the backlog of 31.28 million cases pending in (the) various courts including High courts in the country.” and claimed that this was a result of failings in the Indian justice and law enforcement system that people had to spent too much time in prisons.

“SOPW reiterates its clear position on terrorism and terrorists: We do not support in any way shape or form any terrorist activities or organizations”

– Statement by SOPW,
on behalf of Balbir Singh Bains.

SOPW has claimed that it worked closely with prison authorities and has good working relationships with them.

The statement further states that: “In recent months, serious allegations have been laid against SOPW and it’s Chairman, Balbir Singh Bains, in the media. The following are just a flavour of some of the false and malicious reporting:

(1) That Balbir Singh Bains is an operative of the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI)

(2) Balbir Singh Bains channels funds to India for terrorist financing (a concept totally against the charity’s constitution / ethos and UK legislation)

(3) The SOPW and/or Balbir Singh Bains is operating to revive terrorism in the Panjab (an unfounded and utterly outrageous accusation)

(4) An FIR or case has been registered against Balbir Singh Bains (when in fact nothing has been provided to substantiate such claims of charges).

(5) The provision of gym equipment or fans has been solely for Sikh or terrorism related inmates (quite opposite – all equipment has been provisioned for ALL inmates regardless of background i.e. within the Sikh concept of “Sarbat Da Bhalla”).

SOPW has categorically refuted the allegations made against it and it’s Chairman.

“This appears to be part of a broader attack on civic society NGOs working to alleviate injustices in India. Ms. Margaret Sekkagya, an independent United Nations Special Rapporteur, in 2011 expressed concern that she found human rights workers and their families who, have been killed, tortured, ill-treated, disappeared, threatened, arbitrarily arrested and detained, falsely charged and under surveillance because of their legitimate work in upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms.” reads the statement.

SOPW has maintained that: “[A]s a matter of fact, the Chairman himself has been the subject of arbitrary arrest, torture and prolonged detention from 24th June 1999 to 27th March 2002. It was then too Balbir Singh Bains was accused of terrorism in the alarmist press. Some basic and cursory research would reveal that the case was struck out with the Additional TADA Judge M. L. Sanni summarizing that the police’s case was ‘a balloon of falsehoods’.”

“Our contact details are and have been a matter of public record and yet we have not been approached by any media or government representatives concerning the above. We would welcome the opportunity to clarify any accusations that have been laid against us” the statement adds.

“SOPW reiterates its clear position on terrorism and terrorists: We do not support in any way shape or form any terrorist activities or organizations” concludes the statement.

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