Mohali, Panjab,  India : Lal Singh, was released on parole late yesterday, December 20, 2013, from maximum security Nabha Jail in Panjab, after depositing a bond with the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Kapurthala district, Panjab.  Voices For Freedom (VFF) and other human rights groups led by Gurbakash Singh have been asking the Central and Panjab State Governments to release all six Sikh prisoners who have served between 18-23 years.

According to Amar Singh Chahal, a human-rights attorney who is also representing Gurbakash Singh: “Lal Singh has been released on a one-and-a-half month parole, which is not what Gurbakash Singh asked for.”  Even though Lal Singh’s presence at Amb Sahib (Mohali, Panjab) after his release showed a ray of hope to the supporters, we still robustly aim for his permanent release, along with the release of five other Sikh prisoners: Gurmeet Singh( Burrail Jail, Chandigarh), Lakhwinder Singh (Burrail Jail, Chandigarh), Shamsher Singh (Burrail Jail, Chandigarh), Wariam Singh (Bans- Bareli Jail, Uttar Pradesh)  and Gurdeep Singh Khera  (Gulbarg Jail, Karnataka).

We urge Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and all international human-rights organizations to step in and help save Gurbakash Singh, whose hunger-strike has now entered day 38.  He is beginning to have respiratory problems and was reported to be on oxygen support for some time before he regained stability. Due to his condition, Gurbakash Singh was not available for comment. In a conversation with VFF, Damandeep Singh, who also took to a hunger-strike when Gurbakash Singh was forcefully and illegally arrested for four days, said, “Bhai Sahib (Gurbakash Singh) is stable and is more determined than ever to continue the fast against injustice.”

It is paramount to save Gurbakash Singh whose humanitarian efforts single-handedly tugged at the conscience of the Sikh community globally and united them, to stand up against discrimination.

Lal Singh is the only one yet to be granted parole out of the six prisoners whose release  Gurbakash Singh has been demanding.  The other five being Gurmeet Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, Shamsher Singh, Wariam Singh and Gurdeep Singh Khera.  Lal Singh was convicted under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, commonly known as TADA. He has been out on parole twenty times and has an impeccable post-conviction record.  Despite serving for almost 20 years and having an impeccable post conviction record, the government of Gujarat. where the offences were committed, still has not seen it fit to release Lal Singh permanently.

Voices For Freedom will continue the pursuit for justice to each of these six prisoners who are being discriminated against because they are Sikhs.

Jaspreet Kaur
Legal Fellow
Voices For Freedom