On 1 June, 2016, Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa’s (Bapu Ji) peaceful hunger strike to free Sikh political prisoners in India surpassed 500 days. Bapu Ji has been detained at various hospitals in Punjab for more than half that time, being force-fed and given treatment against his will. Having stood by his father’s side since the beginning of his hunger strike, Bapu Ji’s son Ravinderjeet Singh and his family also remain in Punjab, barred from returning to the U.S. by the Punjab Government.
Demanding an answer for the Punjab Government’s continued harassment and abuse of Bapu Ji, Ravinderjeet filed a habeas petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Before the first petition hearing on 31 May, 2016, the Punjab Government released Bapu Ji from Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) in Ludhiana. On 31 May, 2016, the Punjab and Haryana High Court deferred the petition hearing to July 18, 2016.
Only ten days after his release, on June 8, 2016, the Punjab Government and police started to amass outside Bapu Ji’s residence in Hassanpur, Punjab. On June 10, 2016, the police barged into Bapu Ji’s residence by destroying the outside gate lock and then subsequently breaking into Bapu Ji’s room. As can be seen by the photo below, the police broke Bapu Ji’s bedroom door to gain access to him, his family, and supporters. It was reported by Sikh24 that Ravinderjeet, his wife and two young children, and supporters were locked in a room while the police took Bapu Ji to the ambulance waiting outside. Bapu Ji was forcefully taken to DMCH again and is currently being kept there against his will.
Since the beginning of his hunger strike in January 2015, Bapu Ji’s struggle has secured the release of nine political prisoners, and transfer and parole of two prisoners that have served more than twenty years in jail. Bapu Ji vows that his hunger strike will continue until the Punjab Government, which has the power to release any of these Sikh political prisoners immediately, permanently releases these men from jail.
Supporters worldwide continue to stand by Bapu Ji’s side, organizing events to raise awareness for his struggle. Protests in London, California, New York, Australia, Italy, Canada, India and other countries have continued to raise awareness among Indian consulates and embassies. A blood donation event took place in October-November 2015, with individuals tweeting a photo of their donation with the hashtag #SikhBlood. More recently, art exhibitions were organized in the UK and California, displaying work inspired by Bapu Ji’s struggle, with the social media campaign #Art4Justice. A larger, culminating art exhibition is currently being organized in London, where artwork will be showcased from around the world.