STORY 3 ITEM 15 Photo 1
STORY 3 ITEM 15 Photo 2

GURBAKSH Singh Khalsa has commenced a hunger strike to death in Punjab for the release of all Sikh political prisoners and in particular six Sikhs who have reportedly completed their sentences but are still languishing in Indian prisons. Standing in solidarity with Khalsa, over 500 Sikhs attended a large rally held at Grand Taj Banquet Hall in Surrey on Wednesday night and urged the Sikh congregation of B.C. and the entire world to support the release of all Sikh political prisoners.

The rally organizers said that Khalsa has been left with no choice but to take this course of action as the Sikh leadership has failed to protect its own. This ‘morcha’ will only be successful if the Sikhs collectively show strength and participate.

“This issue is bigger than one group or organization and is a collective call for us all to come together and ensure the release of Sikh political prisoners that have completed their sentences according to the law. It is only a show of force from the Sikh sangat that will shake the governments and move them to action,” they said.

The BC Sikh Societies of the Lower Mainland had earlier sent joint memorandums in support of Khalsa and his mission to  Jathedar Akal Takht Sahib, all Panthic Organizations, and Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal).

B.C. Sikh Societies spokesperson Moninder Singh said: “The Punjab Government is doing nothing at the moment and over the years I don’t think there is much expectation that they will act in a timely manner. The law of the land has fallen to the point where legal and peaceful demonstrations cannot be carried out. The voice of dissent is being silenced and effectively all modes of protest in a democratic environment are being blocked. Nonetheless, the Sikh nation sees Bhai Gurbaksh Singh is an inspiration and his Chardi Kala persona is giving rise to voices all across the world that are asking the Akal Takht Jathedar, SGPC and all Panthic Jathebandis to fulfill their responsibilities in this morcha.”

Those in attendance provided much feedback to set the agenda for the week to come:

* On December 8, a protest rally will be held at Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey at 2 p.m. This meeting will be a general call for all members of the community to attend and show their support for Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa in large numbers.

* On Tuesday, December 10, 2013 (International Human Rights Day), representatives of eight Lower Mainland gurdwaras and many other societies will present a memorandum of demands to the Indian Consulate General in Vancouver and a peaceful protest will be held outside the consulate general office.

The participating gurdwara societies: Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara (Surrey), Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar (Surrey), Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib (Surrey), Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara (Surrey), Gurdwara Sahib Sukh Sagar (Khalsa Diwan Society, New Westminster), Gurdwara Baba Banda Singh Bahadar Sikh Society (Abbotsford), Gurdwara Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar (Abbotsford) and Gurdwara Sahib Khalsa Darbar (Vancouver).