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Explained: All About ‘Bandi Singhs’

Explained: All About ‘Bandi Singhs’

Explained: All About ‘Bandi Singhs’

Bandi Singhs or Sikh political prisoners refer to those Sikh prisoners who are detained or imprisoned in jails for matters related to the Sikh struggle. Release of captive Sikhs occupies an important place in Punjab and Sikh politics. While this is a legal matter, it is also an emotional one for the Sikh community. Being a sensitive matter, it has been a topic of discussion for some time now. On June 2022, in the Lok Sabha by-election of Sangrur,Punjab,India, Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD), Amritsar president Simranjit Singh Mann fought and won on this issue. Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) also contested the election on the same issue by fielding Bibi Kamaldeep Kaur, the sister of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who was given the status of a living martyr by Sri Akal Takht Sahib on 23 March 2018, but she lost the election.

Bandi Sikhs, who have been in jail for decades, have no criminal profession or criminal background. These are the youth from ordinary homes that were forced to follow the path of violence after India's independence, especially in 1984, due to the conditions created by the government and political discrimination against the Sikh community in the country. Under the influence of this separatist politics, the Sikh prisoners in jails for various crimes have been called Bandi Singhs i.e. Captive Sikhs. Many have completed their sentences. Despite being locked up in jails for many years, many of them have never even got parole.

Various organizations of the Sikh community and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC, which is also called the Parliament of the Sikhs), have been continuously demanding the release of the captive Sikhs from Indian government. At present, apart from putting up posters with the pictures of 9 captive Sikhs outside various Gurdwaras, the SGPC is also carrying out a signature campaign. A committee has also been formed by the Shiromani Committee for the release of captive Sikhs. Regarding this issue, Sikh organizations have been holding liberation marches and have been reaching out to the ruling parties. The Shiromani Committee and sectarian parties claim that despite completing their sentences, the Sikh political prisoners in Indian jails have not been released yet. The Sikh community has repeatedly demanded their release.

On the International Human Rights Day, the World Sikh Parliament of Europe organized a justice rally in front of the Geneva office of the United Nations for the release political Sikh prisoners. On this occasion, it was alleged that despite India’s agreement on the UN charter, the country continues its oppression & forced deprivation of the Sikh community and other minority communities. A memorandum was submitted to the Special High Commissioner in Geneva demanding the release of political Sikh prisoners.

The Sikhs have made legal, political, public and all-level efforts for the release of the Captive Sikhs and these efforts continue even today. The Captive Sikhs have so far spent a major part of their lives in jails. Due to which their mental condition is also affected. Releasing the Captive Sikhs on goodwill and humanitarian basis will be a good start towards brotherhood and unity of the country. This will bring good results.

A concrete step like the release of all the Sikh prisoners will certainly help in removing the feeling of alienation in the Sikh community in Punjab and in restoring the faith of the Sikh community towards the country.

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