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World Sikh Organization Condemns the Mistreatment of Sikh Detainees in Dibrugarh Jail Assam

OTTAWA, CANADA – The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO), in an issued press statement, condemned the mistreatment and unjust detention of Sikh activists in Dibrugarh Jail, Assam.

The ten Sikh detainees, including Bhai Amritpal Singh of the Waris Punjab De (WPD) organization, have endured nearly a year of detention without charges under India’s draconian National Security Act (NSA). The NSA, a colonial-era law, allows Indian authorities to indefinitely detain individuals without charges and transport them to any state in India for imprisonment. The Sikh detainees have now initiated a hunger strike to protest their mistreatment.

Recently, alarming revelations have come to light regarding the conditions within Dibrugarh Jail. The detainees discovered hidden cameras covertly installed in their cells and washrooms. This unacceptable invasion of privacy raises grave concerns about the violation of basic human rights and dignity.

In response to the discovery of the hidden cameras, Bhai Amritpal Singh, the leader of the WPD, has been falsely accused by the jail management of possessing contraband items, including two cell phones, a USB stick, and a “smartwatch.” Bhai Amritpal Singh denies these allegations, asserting that the items were planted in his cell to fabricate incriminating evidence against him.

In a recorded statement released today, Bhai Amritpal Singh revealed that he and his fellow Sikh detainees initiated a hunger strike on February 16th, demanding to be transferred to a prison in Punjab. Bhai Amritpal Singh expressed concerns that the detainees’ food may also be deliberately adulterated and that several of the Sikh detainees are facing health issues.

Bhai Amritpal Singh and the other detainees have not been accused of any serious crime. Their detention appears to target the growing popularity of the WPD’s Khalsa Vahir movement, which was inspiring Punjab’s youth to give up drugs and return to Sikhi.

WSO President, Danish Singh, said today,

“The WSO condemns the appalling treatment of Sikh detainees in Dibrugarh Jail. Bhai Amritpal Singh and the other Sikhs have been arbitrarily detained for almost a year under India’s draconian NSA, thousands of kilometres away from their homes. The discovery of hidden cameras in the detainees’ washrooms and cells is a shocking and unacceptable violation of privacy, reflecting the perverse intentions of the jail authorities.

The Sikh detainees in Dibrugarh are being held without charges for simply advocating for Sikh issues. Their detention is reflective of the Government of India’s discriminatory treatment towards Sikhs and other marginalized communities.

We call for the immediate release of these Sikh detainees. The Government of India must be held accountable and uphold its obligations under international law.”

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 of all individuals. 

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