Since January 16, 2015, 83-year old activist Surat Singh Khalsa has been in news or little less in the news despite his fast-unto-death plans seeking the release of Sikh political prisoners who have already completed their jail-terms.
Did he achieve his goals? The answer is a big no as he was forcefully confined at a Ludhiana hospital. He was also subjected to force-feeding and other dubious medical treatments.
Singh's demand is a legitimate one, as he wants 43 Sikh political prisoners across several jails in the country to be released, as they are still languishing there at their old age, even after completing their jail-term.
In reply, Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, told the media that Surat initially named 82 convicts, and some of them were arrested very recently, just a year ago and were in undertrial.
Also in July 2014, Supreme Court, in an order, stayed the release of life convicts across the country.
Now Surat's lawyer Jaspal Singh Manjhpur told the media that the DGP's list had 200 names, among which 70 to 75 have already served over 15 to 20 years of jail term.
Also PUCL lawyer Arjun Sheoran, while claiming Punjab government’s inability to act on the entire matter due to the Supreme Court 2014 order as an inaccurate one, said that an interim application could be filed for the release of these prisoners.
After ignoring Surat's fast for first three weeks, Punjab Police forcefully shifted him to a civil hospital on February 8 and placed under preventive arrest. Also, food pipes have been stitched on the activist’s forehead, resulting in an infection.
PUCL said to media that if the allegations were true, it would lead to inflicting inhuman and illegal treatment, by the state to Surat Singh.
Surat Singh’s son, Ravinderjit Singh, a U.S. citizen, who came to Punjab to look after his father, was held under police custody for two months under charges of being “likely to commit a breach of the peace”. After his release on April 27, Ravinder said to the media that he was tortured and that his life was in danger, apart from being blackmailed for manipulating Surat into stopping his protest.