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The only thing standing in the way of Gurdeep Singh Khera’s return to Punjab after 24 years, is the Badal Government. Since December 2013, all relevant paperwork for the transfer of Gurdeep Singh to a prison in Punjab, has been prepared and signed by the Karnataka State Government and all it requires is Badal’s signature. For Badal, this would simply be a SMALL gesture for a man who has served more than a lifetime behind bars in a foreign state, but for Gurdeep Singh, it would make a HUGE difference to his mental and emotional well-being as well as make it easier to process his permanent release. 

Despite the Badal Governments promises and assurances during Gurbaksh Singh’s hungerstrike campaign to release all prisoners, the Punjab Government cannot even sign a single piece of paper allowing a Gursikh to return to Punjab, who the Karnataka Government even says, should be transferred nearer to his home.

Since 1990, Gurdeep Singh has been serving two life sentences, one in Bidar (Karnataka) and one in Tihar Jail (Delhi) after he was implicated in the Bidar and Delhi bomb blast cases. These two bomb blasts were labelled as revenge attacks in retaliation to four days of murderous mayhem in September 1988 which saw the looting, arson and murders of Sikhs, who were a minority in Bidar (Karnataka). Five Sikh students from the Guru Nanak University were brutally murdered as was one Sikh from the local Pharmacy College. Hundreds of other Sikh students had been seriously injured. Out of the students who lost their lives, two were brothers and the only children of their parents. These attacks left a deep scar on the Sikhs and the misery of those families is beyond comprehension.

Gurdeep Singh’s strength of character and true Gursikh spirit has seen him through some of the most horrendous times. Falsely imprisoned and after so many years, still illegally detained, he has experienced ordeals that most of us would find hard to even imagine. So far removed from his native home and mother tongue for decades has meant Gurdeep Singh has lost his ability to speak once fluent Punjabi; feeling completely isolated and alone he likens it to “being abandoned on a strange Island where you are the only one of your kind” and to top it all, he is labelled an 'anti-national terrorist', meaning the jailors and inmates treat him like the scum of the earth.

Under immense pressure and threats from the authorities, after he was sentenced, Gurdeep Singh’s family took out an advert in the press stating that they no longer acknowledged him as their son and that legally they had no connections with him. He has not had a single visitor in all this time. Last week, our Sikh Relief/SOPW team made the long and difficult journey from Punjab to Karnataka taking three days to travel by train, with many changes on the way. Passing through various states with their own languages and customs, our team got a flavour of how foreign and lonely it must feel for Gurdeep Singh. To date, Gurdeep Singh has served eleven years in Bidar Jail, nine years in Tihar Jail and from 2010 onwards he has been imprisoned at Gulbarga Jail in Karnataka. 

Sikh Relief/SOPW will continue supporting Gurdeep Singh, as we have done since he first met the founder of SOPW, Balbir Singh Bains, in Tihar Jail where Balbir Singh himself was imprisoned under false charges. This support ranges from all the legal and solicitor fees to clothes and toiletries. Currently we have lodged an appeal for his permanent release. Please do an ardas (prayer) for Gurdeep Singh who has endured so much suffering yet, has still come through it shining the light of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. This Singh is the true spirit of a Khalsa, in his eyes; there is a fierce light that is determined to shine where there has only ever been darkness.

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