A video purportedly showing Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa — an 82-year old Sikh activist whose family claims he has been on a hunger strike since January 16 — having an assortment of food has gone viral on social media.
The video, spanning 11 minutes and 25 seconds, purportedly shows Khalsa having dal, khichdi, lassi, banana shake, vegetables, almonds, milk and other dry fruits. Khalsa has been demanding the release of Sikh prisoners allegedly languishing in jails even after having completed their terms.
In a combination of over 14 clips, Khalsa is purportedly seen speaking multiple times, from commenting on the taste of the food, remarking that it is home-made and asking what his next meal would be.
While confirming that the man in the video is his father, Khalsa’ son, Ravi Inderjit Singh Gogi, alleged he consumed the food after being “drugged” by doctors. He also said the video was taken recently when Khalsa was admitted to PGIMER, Chandigarh.
“Whenever doctors take Bapuji from home to hospital, they administer eight injections on the way. He loses consciousness and his memory and forgets that he is fighting for a cause. We have already informed supporters multiple times that he is force-fed in hospital under the influence of medicines. The video has been made and released by anti-social elements who want to disrupt our fight to get Sikh prisoners released from jails,” Gogi said.
“We do not know what kind of drugs are given to him but he entirely forgets his mission and starts eating whatever is offered to him. He is always force fed under tight police security and whenever we object, police threaten to lodge false FIRs against us,” he added.
The Sikh activist has been in and out of hospitals at least seven times since his “hunger strike” began in January this year. His family have been at odds with doctors attending to him over his health. Though Khalsa’s family have been claiming that his condition has been ‘deteriorating’, doctors have always maintained that he is completely stable. “When he was discharged a few days ago, he was stable with no complications. I cannot comment on this video,” said Dr Renu Chhatwal, civil surgeon, Ludhiana.
There has also been a quiet political response to the video. SAD spokesperson Maheshinder Singh Grewal said it was inappropriate for his party to comment. “It is for people to decide,” Grewal said.
TheDal Khalsa, which has been supporting Khalsa’s protest, said it was ‘shocked’. “We were made to believe that he has not eaten anything for 11 months and we had shown full solidarity with him. But if this video is correct, it is extremely shocking,” said Kanwar Pal Singh, the outfit’s spokesperson.
SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann, who has also hailed Khalsa, said: “I need to verify from Gogi (Khalsa’s son) if all this is correct. It is a sensitive issue.”
Congress spokesperson Sukhpal Singh Khaira also refused to comment on the issue.