Gurbakash's protest heard across seas

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Gurbakash's protest heard across seas

Friday, 13 December 2013 | Monika Malik | Chandigarh

The echo of Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa’s protest for the release of six Sikh “detainees” is being heard loud and clear across the seas. The cyberspace too is invaded by his followers to muster support for the “cause”.

An e-representation has also been floated for being signed by those who endorse his movement to coax the human rights organisations to take up the issue at the right forum. Entering 29th day of his fast on his birthday on Thursday, Gurbaksh Singh is receiving massive support, not only from the Sikh supporters, and organisations here, but from the Sikhs across the globe.

Only recently, the Sikhs in london organised a march in support of Gurbaksh Singh, and the Sikhs who are unlawfully being incarcerated in Indian prisons. Protests and rallies were also organised in Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, USA, Australia, Kashmir and New Delhi. Also joining Gurbaksh Singh’s “fight for justice”, five young Sikhs have undertaken a five-day hunger strike outside the Indian High Commission at london “to raise awareness of Gurbaksh Singh’s plight in Punjab where he has been on a hunger strike since November 14”.

The UK-based Sikh Organisation for Prisoner Welfare (SOPW), a Sikh organisation working for welfare of Sikh prisoners languishing in jails throughout India, has asked the Sikhs living across the United Kingdom to take part in the peaceful protest. The organisation has also announced that one person would take part in a 30-minute hunger strike every day to raise awareness of human rights issues in India.

Introduced as “Sikh Human Right Activist” on the World Wide Web, Gurbaksh Singh has as many as 11 pages fully dedicated to him on the Facebook having nearly 15,000 followers, besides a group with 346 members. Pages named as Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa Zindabaad, Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa Morcha, We support Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, is giving updated information about him, ranging from his health, his day-to-day activities, people supporting him, visiting him, among other things via pictures, videos, or wall posts.

The page, We support Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, has the maximum number of followers — 11,243 — and is varying with each passing minute, while 29,242 Facebook users were “talking about this”. Undeterred by his “deteriorating” health, Gurbaksh Singh has all along been stressing on continuing his protest unless the “Singhs are released from illegal imprisonment”.

Started by Gurbaksh Singh, his hunger strike was continued by ludhiana youngster Damandeep Singh, along with three other Sikh youth from Sri Nagar. With him, five Sikh youth have also joined his “cause” in london. They have been seeking the release of six Sikhs, initially five, languishing in prisons “after completion of their jail sentences”, including Gurmeet Singh, Shamsher Singh, lakhwinder Singh — all lodged in Chandigarh’s Burail Jail since 1995.

They were convicted and sentenced to life by the trial court in 2007 for their involvement in assassinating former Chief Minister Beant Singh on August 31, 1995, outside Punjab Civil Secretariat at Chandigarh. Their conviction and sentence were upheld by the Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on October 12, 2010.

Endorsing his demands, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has also asked the Union Government, particularly Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to wake up to the plight of Sikh detainees languishing in jails for years despite having completed their sentence and to ensure that they are released forthwith.

He has also maintained that the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), and the SAD-led Punjab government should make efforts to secure the release of Sikh detainees, while appealing to Gurbaksh Singh to end fast and hand him over a list of detainees in various jails. Pressing for amassing support for his campaign, a “text” in the form of a letter is being circulated on various websites by the Sikh organisations, asking the readers “to copy the text and e-mail or fax it to their local government officials and human rights organisations”.

The text highlighted Gurbakash Singh’s hunger strike to “seek release of six Sikhs who have completed their jail sentences but have not been released by Indian State governments”, and “unlawful” methods adopted by the authorities concerned to disrupt his protest. 

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