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Freedom Fighter’s Hunger Strike Reaches 1000 Days:
Bapu Surat Singh






Early into his hunger strike in 2015 to free Sikh political prisoners in Punjab, 84-year-old Bapu Surat Singh had written two significant lines in his correspondence (in Punjabi).

A rough translation: “We’ve started on this journey, the destination is far and not straight-forward; it is rocky, high, thorny, but reaching it is a must.” - Surat Singh Khalsa (6 March, 2015)

His words could not have been truer as he completes 1000 days of hunger strike tomorrow, on October 16, 2017.

Commencing his journey on 16 January, 2015, Bapu Surat Singh has endured unimaginable hardships.

Forcibly being abducted from his home in Punjab by the Indian authorities only a few weeks into his hunger strike, Bapu Surat Singh was taken to a hospital for treatment and eventual force-feeding in February 2015.

The unjust administration of force-feeding has continued since then, with Bapu Surat Singh currently serving his longest detention in a hospital. While the world’s oldest hunger-striker has refused, and at times fought off, the numerous attempts to treat and force-feed him, the relentless authorities have made sure it continues, shockingly finding any way to suppress the indomitable spirit of an 84-year-old lifelong human rights activist.

He wrote a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which includes:

These political prisoners are suffering for their commitment, belief and ideology of the Sikh struggle. My demand is straight and simple:

Treat all Sikh prisoners – under trials and those sentenced in cases relating to the Sikh struggle - as political prisoners, and

Release all prisoners who have completed their full jail terms and are legitimately due for release, exactly in the same manner, as other prisoners are so released in various other parts of the country.

Modi has not yet released public acknowledgement regarding Surat Singh’s demands. This, perhaps, speaks to the fragmented relationship that Modi has with much of the Indian population today.

Time and time again since January 2015, Bapu Surat Singh has persevered.

As a direct result, long-serving Sikh political prisoners such as Gurdeep Singh and Professor Devinderpal Singh Bhullar have received parole for the first time in decades; Waryam Singh was permanently released from jail after serving 25 years; elderly political prisoners aged in their mid-60s to late-90s were finally released after a decade.

With the added and unwavering help of Sikh organizations working to free these prisoners, human rights activists, and supporters all over the world, these men have finally been granted freedom. Their illegal detentions had gone long past (in years) despite already completing their full, given sentences.

The most agonizing aspect of this struggle has been the suffocating response of the Punjab Government. The current Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder, and other Indian politicians, have all stated at some point that these Sikh political prisoners can and should be freed immediately.

Yet since taking office this year, the Captain has resorted to ignoring Bapu Surat Singh and publicly claiming there are no political prisoners that need to be released.

While other state governments, such as in Utter Pradesh, have taken the initiative to release languishing Sikh political prisoners, the Government of Punjab continues to ignore, stall, and make false claims.

In the middle remains the marred body of an 84-year-old Sikh man.

Activists and supporters continue to organize awareness campaigns to help get Bapu Surat Singh’s message out into the public. From 29 October - 5 November, 2017, everyone worldwide is asked to donate blood and post their donation photos on social media, using #SikhBlood.

[Courtesy: The Huffington Post, The Plaid Zebra. Edited for]

October 15, 2017

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Bapu Surat Singh"

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