27th July 2010, Toronto, Canada: Voices For Freedom (VFF) calls for the Governments of India and France to ensure health and safety of Pal Singh, citizen of France, who has been arrested and denied basic and integral rights in Jallandhar, Punjab.
Pal Singh, an elderly gentleman who is dedicated to volunteer work also suffers from a heart condition. He was first arrested on July 18, 2010, and released after questioning on July 19, 2010. Pal Singh was then arrested once again on July 22, at which point the police also seized his vehicle, laptop and other personal items. The following day, July 23, 2010, the Police once again came to his residence and started questioning two children and one young man for whom Pal Singh was providing food and shelter. Upon the request of the village head (sarpanch) the officers ceased questioning of the children. When asked the whereabouts of Pal Singh, the officers denied any knowledge of his arrest, until two of the four were recognized by the young man under Pal Singh’s care, at which point they relented.
Currently, five days following Pal Singh’s second arrest, the only news received by family and friends is that of his detention in a jail located in somewhere in Amritsar. Neither he, nor his family or friends have been informed as to the reason for his arrest or what division the police officers were from. Furthermore, in an attempt to disguise themselves, the officers in all three incidents wore plain clothes or “civilian dress”.
After employing clear tactics of deceit, the Punjab Police has refused to give adequate information as to the whereabouts and safety of Pal Singh. Despite denials on the part of the Indian Government, the use of torture, especially by Punjab Police, is a sad but well documented reality, even to this day. As such Voices For Freedom calls on the governments of both India and France to ensure the mental and physical safety and health of Pal Singh.
Pal Singh’s daughter who reported the incident to Voices For Freedom is deeply concerned for his health and safety and has made a plea to both the Indian and the French government to help locate her father.
The Panjab police has a nefarious record of human rights abuses as reported both by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The Indian government, in June 2009, refused visas to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent (USCIRF), bipartisan, US Government Commission (USCIRF). USCIRF was to meet with Indian officials, NGOs and other relevant human rights groups to prepare their final report and recommendations on India. India was criticized by the US Commission for failing to protect the minorities and because of an “inadequate” response to religious violence, particularly against the country’s minorities. Voices For Freedom has released a report, Smoldering Embers, which focused on the disappearances from 1984-2001 in Panjab.