The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Punjab-Haryana branch, has described Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa as Punjab’s Irom Sharmila and expressed deep concern over his health. He has been on a fast unto death for the past 68 days but being force-fed since February 26.
The PUCL members alleged that the Punjab government was being indifferent. “We fear for the health of Bapu Surat Singh, considering his age and poor health. It is imperative that the Punjab government responds with a sense of urgency and alacrity to the democratic demands of Bapu Surat Singh who seeks release of all prisoners who have completed their terms of imprisonment but have been kept in jail for many years,” said V Suresh, national general secretary, PUCL.
Suresh said Baba Surat Singh had been on the fast since January 16. Initially, the government did not respond to his demands. However, on February 8, he was detained and forcibly brought to Civil Hospital, Ludhiana, under police cover. There had been no restriction on his family to take care of him, but on February 26, the police took him into preventive custody, imposed restrictions on visitors and force-fed him.
The PUCL demanded that the government of Punjab should ensure the safety and health of Bapu Surat Singh by removing the food tube and allowing free access to him by his family members and supporters. The government should also come up with a concrete action plan to address the human rights issues raised by Bapu Surat Singh.
Police Commissioner Parmod Ban said, “He is being fed through food pipe as he refused to take feed from the mouth. We have taken him into preventive custody as a precautionary measure.”