Ottawa (July 16, 2013): The World Sikh Organization of Canada has raised the issue of threats to sub inspector Surjit Singh with Canadian Parliamentarians and asked that they do all they can to impress upon Indian authorities to provide him with the necessary protection so that he can freely tell his story.
Earlier this month, Surjit Singh revealed that after joining the Punjab Police in 1989, he personally orchestrated the killings of 83 Sikh youth in fake encounters on the orders of his superior officers. He has also provided details on brutal torture and other abuses that were perpetrated by the Punjab Police in the late 80s and early 90s.
Human rights bodies including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have long held that the Punjab Police and security forces in India have engaged in torture, extrajudicial executions and ‘disappearances’ of suspects.
Mr. Singh has said that he was summoned by senior officers of the Punjab Police who threatened him with a fate similar to Jaswant Singh Khalra. Jaswant Singh Khalra was a human rights activist who visited Canada in 1995 on the invitation of the WSO and revealed that based on the evidence he had collected, approximately 25,000 Sikh youth had been killed by security forces in Punjab and illegally cremated. Upon his return from Canada, Mr. Khalra was himself kidnapped and murdered by Punjab Police officers. His body was never found.
Subsequent to his revelations, Mr. Singh has been suspended from his position. He has told the media that he has been receiving harassing phone calls and his home in Amritsar has been surrounded by the Punjab Police. Mr. Singh is currently in hiding. There is a serious concern that Surjit Singh may be harmed by police officers who don't want him to make further revelations that would also impugn them.
Since Mr. Singh’s revelations, families who saw their loved ones killed in fake encounters have begun to step forwardto tell their stories as well as some former Punjab Police officers who have knowledge of the extrajudicial killings that took place.
WSO President Prem Singh Vinning said, “we have been in touch with Canadian parliamentarians and informed them of this situation. It is essential that Surjit Singh be provided protection and he be able to freely tell his story. If he comes to harm, other individuals who are stepping forward to talk about human rights abuses will also be intimidated into silence.”
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.