Gurbaksh Khalsa: Hunger Strike to Free Prisoners
Harpal Singh Cheema, an aide to Khalsa, told CNN that his hunger strike began on November 14. "He's weak but says he will not end it until he sees those six prisoners free," Cheema said.
According to Cheema, Khalsa says the men are still in prison despite apparently completing their sentences on charges relating to the state’s bloody insurgency by Sikh rebels, which lasted for more than a decade until the early 1990s. Several top political leaders were assassinated during the insurgency, including India's then prime minister Indira Gandhi, who was killed by her Sikh bodyguards in October 1984. Human rights groups have accused both Indian authorities and militants of serious violations during the period.
Sidhu says he feels that Indian media have not covered the story enough. "We [the Sikh community] are fighting to get them permanently released on the basis of human rights and justice,” he said. “They have served more than the required amount and on the basis of fairness and human decency need to be permanently released."
Harcharan Bains, a spokesman for the Punjab government, told CNN the provincial chief minister was in touch with other Indian states over Khalsa's demands. Of the six prisoners that the hunger-striker wants to be released, four are currently in Punjab jails, he said. However, he said they had been convicted by courts in other states.
"It's up to the discretion of those governments [and] administrations to reconsider their cases. We are trying our best," he said.
Read CNN's coverage of this story here.
- sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer