Fasting Sikh hardliner Khalsa now wants supporters freed
Fasting Sikh activist Surat Singh Khalsa on Tuesday reiterated his demand for the release of political prisoners and claimed that he had given up even water since Punjab Police brought him to the civil hospital here on Monday evening.
Khalsa said that at a meeting held at the gurdwara at Hassanpur village near here on July 6 he had issued a warning to the police and district administration that he would give up even water in case the police tried to take him to hospital.
Interacting with reporters for a few minutes amid tight security at the hospital, the frail 82-year-old replied to the queries by whispering to his son, Ravinderjit Singh, who spoke on his behalf.
"The onus of peace in Punjab and my well-being lies on chief minister Parkash Singh Badal," his son quoted him as saying. "First, the Badal government should release all the supporters arrested since Sunday. I will not hold any talks with the administration till then," he said.
Khalsa claimed that he had given up water since Monday evening. Ravinderjit said his father had survived on lime juice and water since undertaking the fast on January 16. He also claimed that he had refused to give samples for medical tests.
Ravinderjit said additional director general of police HS Dhillon, Ludhiana rural SSP Ravcharan Singh Brar and the chief medical officer had forced Khalsa to take water and cooperate with doctors in administering treatment to him and to give blood and urine samples for examination.
Khalsa said his fight for the release of political prisoners was not limited only to Sikhs but extended to members of all faiths though most of them were Sikhs.
When asked about the chief minister's view on the issue, Khalsa said if Badal is really concerned, he should give it in written.
Ravinderjit claimed that SSP Ravcharan Singh Brar had conveyed to them that DGP Sumedh Singh Saini had ordered the release of their supporters. He said they tried to check with the arrested supporters but could not get through, so they had no idea whether they had been released.
The police had defused tension at Hasanpur village, 15 km from Ludhiana, by managing to bring Khalsa to the hospital on Monday evening.
The Badal government conducted a swift operation and arrested the key radical leaders and over 20 "potential troublemakers" camping at Khalsa's house at Hasanpur on Monday.