Speaking at a seminar on "Whither human rights in India" on the occasion of the World Human Rights Day on Monday, activists of the Dal Khalsa and Sikh Youth of Punjab reviewed the human rights situation in Punjab and deplored that international covenants and conventions had not been followed in letter and spirit. They also sought the urged the proactive intervention of the United Nations to improve the human rights situation in the state.
Addressing the seminar, Dal Khalsa leaders HS Dhami, Kanwarpal Singh and Ranbir Singh condemned the travesty of justice in the case of five hijackers against whom the Indian government had initiated proceedings after 31 years on "sedition charges", ignoring their life imprisonment in Pakistan for the same offence.
The speakers condemned the state's move to upset the home and hearth of two of the five hijackers, Satnam Singh and Tejinder Singh, who have since returned to Punjab and are peacefully living a dignified life after their long and scary prison sentences. The other three accused, Gajinder Singh, Jasbir Singh and Karan Singh, are staying abroad because of the circumstances prevailing in India, they said.
The five had hijacked an Indian Airlines plane to Lahore, where they were arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in September 1981. After serving 14 years of their sentence they were all released by the Pakistan government. Satnam and Tejinder returned to India and surrendered before a Deli court, which allowed them to go home as they had served their sentence.
"After 31 years, our men are being harassed. I must ask the civil society why old cases are being opened against them now. I want to question them, has anyone punished those who killed thousands of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984. Satnam and Tejinder are both leading a peaceful life and now they are to be tried for sedition. This is a clear case of trampling of rights of two persons," said Dhami.
The leaders at the seminar condemned the unwarranted detention of leaders of Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani) Kulvir Singh Barapind and Daljit Singh under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. Kanwarpal demanded their immediate release.
Kanwarpal said the recent incident of a district party leader of the SAD killing ASI Ravinderpal Singh in broad daylight had clearly exposed the nexus between hooligans and politicians. He appealed to the government to check criminalisation of politics and stop politicisation of the police.
Accusing the Punjab government of mocking human rights, a resolution passed at the seminar stated that it was unfortunate that the Badal government had installed a known violator of human rights, Sumedh Singh Saini, as the director general of police (DGP). Another resolution urged India and Pakistan to abolish death penalty.
The Dal Khalsa also appealed to the National Commission of Minorities to censure Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi for his unequivocal declaration that the BJP would have no Muslim candidates in his state for the assembly polls.