To show solidarity with Sikh activists Daljit Singh Bittu and Kulbir Singh Barapind after their arrest and their alleged torture, Canadian Sikhs have started a signature campaign led by Canadian Sikh coalition.
The first signature campaign “Free the Singh” in support of both arrested leaders, yielded about thousands of signatures on a petition within Vancouver and Toronto alone (online and in writing) on Sunday and the next campaign is scheduled for the coming weekend.
The campaign was launched across the country in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Montreal, and will continue on till next week.Canadian politicians will be receiving petitions from their constituents who are concerned of the well-being of these political prisoners in Punjab.The campaign reached beyond Vancouver, with petition signing in cities across Canada and the United States.
The Canadian Sikh Coalition is decrying the arrest of duo by the Punjab police.Their arrests have raised many eyebrows and concerns by Sikh leaders, political activists and human rights advocates locally and internationally.
The Sikh community activists in Canada are finding it hard to swallow the case against Bittu and Barapind under explosives act , though no explosives were found from them.In case of Daljit Singh Bittu, not even an arm was recovered but he was booked under Arms Act as well.
The Sikh activists also said that legally published and openly available books and magazines are being termed as "anti-national literature" and for constructive possession of these books etc. both the leaders are booked for "waging war against the State" besides various sections of "UAPA", at behest of ruling party leaders.
“There is a consistent pattern in the tactics used against Bittu and Barapind where the Badal regime is using its political arm of the police to arrest, detain and torture those individuals whose political ideologies contradict with the current government,” stated CSC press release.
The release also said that Bittu and Barapind are current examples of how the Badal regime is using violence as a means of suppressing any form of political dissent and forcefully silencing individuals by incarcerating them on baseless accusations that do not result in convictions.
Considering both men have already attested to being subjected to torture, the Canadian Sikh Coalition is requesting human rights organisations to monitor these cases as torture may be used as a method to extract false testimonies.
Canadian Sikh Coalition spokesperson Moninder Singh says, “this isn’t the first time the Badal regime has used force to suppress political dissent.These baseless charges are used as a tool to suppress the voices of leaders like Daljit Singh Bittu and Kulbir Singh Barapind. We are lobbying human rights organisations worldwide to keep an eye on this case and are trying to spread awareness to ensure we do not have another chapter in Punjab’s political history that is defined by human rights violations by the state.”
The organisation , plans to send a memorandum after the signature campaign to the President of India.