Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Is This Going to be the Fate of Canadian Sikhs When Visiting in India?

Canadian Sikhs should hope that what is currently happening to a British citizen doesn't happen to them when visiting India. I would hope that Canada's Foreign Affairs Ministry would show more concern for Canadian citizens than what it appears Britain has shown for its own.

From SSNews here's the story of Paramjit Singh
Foreign Office Inaction Leads to Torture of British National
Apr 30, 2007 - 4:24:02 PM

SSNews readers will remember the exclusive news regarding the wrongful arrest of 3 Sikhs on bogus charges of possession of explosives, etc. in India. Punjab Police Ropar arrested a British national Parmjeet Singh Dhadi on December 23, 2006 while he was on his way back from attending a function. Two other persons Mr. Amolak Singh and Mr. Jasvinder Singh were also arrested by the Jalandhar Police. As SSNews reported earlier, the 3 Sikhs were tortured for an prolonged period of time. The three persons were arrested under mysterious circumstances and the police story has many aforementioned gaps and variations that nail the lie to the police version.

On 25 April 2007, Paramjit Singh, Amolak Singh and Jaswinder Singh were scheduled to appear at Jalandhar Central Court. The three were arrested on 23 December 2006 and charged with a string of bogus offences. Since their arrest their trial has been ongoing and it was the last scheduled trial date for the prosecution. After this hearing, the defence would present their case to the court.

On 25 April 2007, the Punjab Police decided to intervene in the trial, which to date had been progressing well. They arrested Paramjit Singh and Amolak Singh from Nabhe jail and took them to Hoshiarpur Police Station. There, the Police sought police remand of 14 days. Police remand was only granted for 3 days. The two are accused of a mugging which led to the death of a man. From the dates the police have produced when this apparent offence took place, 23 November 2005, it has already been proven that Paramjit Singh was in the UK. But still the police are pursuing these charges. Once the charges have been placed, this will result in a long trial during which time the two accused will lose their freedom and will face judicial remand. There is no other reason for the bogus charges other than to derail the current trial, which was going well.

On 28 April 2007, Paramjit Singh and Amolak Singh presented in court in very ill-health. They both stated they had been tortured. The duo’s lawyer produced evidence to the judge, showing that Paramjit Singh was not in India when the alleged offence took place and therefore the charges should be dropped. The judge instead ordered another 2 days police remand. This so the police can continue to torture them. Paramjit Singh made disclosure to the Indian media outside of court that he was being tortured, the police were threatening him and they were trying to force him to sign a confession statement stating he had been paid by Bhai Jasbir Singh Rhode and Ravi Inder Singh to assassinate Prakash Singh Badal. Both are innocent and the two mentioned above had no reason to want to kill Badal. These allegations were made by Badal himself without any proof or evidence.

The family of Paramjit Singh now fear that he too will become another victim of the ‘fake encounter scenario’. Paramjit Singh stated at court today that he was told by the police they would shoot him in a fake encounter. This is a harsh reality of what the police in India are still capable of.

This is the third time Paramjit Singh has been arrested and charged with bogus offences. He is an innocent man. The charges against him will once again be proven to be wrong and untrue. However, how much more torture will he take? How many times will he be arrested and charged with bogus offences which will see his liberty at stake for months whilst he proves his innocence?

The cynic rationale behind this arrest is so obvious that one would assume that the authorities in the UK would be willing to make urgent representations. If Paramjit Singh was Caucasian white and of English descent, would he be in this position? Would he be facing bogus charges for the third time? Of course not.

The Foreign office, by doing nothing is showing the Punjab Police that they can continue to abuse innocent Sikhs.

The family of Paramjit Singh believe that the foreign office has discriminated against them and that had this been an English Caucasian man, intervention would have taken place by now. As time goes on, the Foreign Office have been less and less helpful in the case of Paramjit Singh. The family have again today written to the FCO stating their concerns regarding the inaction of the Foreign Office.

Sikh organizations throughout the globe have been rallying behind human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, which to date as been denied entry into Punjab to investigate the gross human rights violations committed over the past two decades by the Indian government. Evidently Sikh human rights activists and those who advocate reform like Paramjit Singh will continue to be denied fair trials and will be subject to the incompetent and partial kangaroo Indian judiciary. The judge has enough evidence before him today to at the very least order that the two be placed in judicial remand, where the police could not torture them. Despite the strong evidence before the court, he ordered police remand.

The foreign office now needs to ensure an urgent medical is carried out on Paramjit Singh so that evidence of the torture inflicted upon him is on record. To date they have failed to take direct action. The Foreign Office must take immediate action.

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