March 9 2014 Latest news:
Sam Blewett, Reporter
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Five Ilford Sikhs spent five days on hunger strike outside the Indian High Commission in solidarity with a man in India who has fasted since November 14.
Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, in Punjab, is protesting over political prisoners not being released after they have served their terms. The Sikhs from Ilford supported this as well as people receiving basic human rights, in their “constant prayer” starting December 10.
Ropinder singh, 45, Harwinder Singh, 19, Davinder Singh, 20, Gagandeep Singh, 22, and Manroop singh, 18, of Karamsar Temple, Ilford High Road, descended on the high commission as it is the Indian government’s representation in Britain.
On December 8 they met in their temple to discuss the situation.
Ropinder Singh, of Glenthorne Gardens, Barkingside said: “We decided we needed to do something.
“We didn’t really plan it we just went and sat there.
“The police came along and we had a good rapport with them, the high commission were supportive too.
“We did it not just for Gurbakesh but for basic human rights, when someone’s served their term they must be released.”
He said that they gathered support through social media very quickly and after just a couple of hours, strangers had brought them a tent and some blankets.
Mr Singh said: “What really came out of it is that so many people out in the streets sleeping on the cold and wet floor over the Christmas period.
“These situations are bigger than communities and religion, we should all be doing our bit.”
Mr Khalsa, a farmer, is fasting over six prisoners from his community who have completed their jail terms but have still not bee released.
Some have served their sentences in excess of six years.
He plans to fast indefinitely until the men are released.
The prisoners were part of Sikh separatists who were part of a conflict in the 80s and 90s.
Many argue that the justice system has been harsher on the Sikhs.