India: Stop Torturing Political Activist Kulvir Singh Barapind
(Pleasanton, CA) The Indian government must immediately secure political activist Kulvir Singh Barapind’s release from the Punjab government and prosecute the individuals responsible for his illegal detention and torture, Ensaaf said today.
Ensaaf received credible reports that Punjab Police have illegally detained and tortured Kulvir Singh Barapind, a Sikh political activist extradited from the U.S. to India in 2006.
Police arrested Mr. Barapind on September 20, 2012, and initially charged him with possessing explosives and seditious literature. After police were unable to produce evidence of the explosives, and it was established the literature was written by an ex-police officer and widely available in bookstores and on the Internet, a judicial magistrate transferred Mr. Barapind from police custody to judicial custody, or jail, on September 26.
According to fellow party activist and attorney Harpal Singh Cheema, who met with Mr. Barapind in detention on September 25 and 26, and spoke to Ensaaf, Punjab Police “applied electric shocks to his ears, beat him on his hands with a rod, and humiliated him."
This is not the first time Punjab Police have illegally detained and tortured Mr. Barapind for his political activism. In the late 1980s, police tortured Mr. Barapind, including electric shocks to his genitals, crushing his thighs with a wooden roller, and beating the soles of his feet.
“Police routinely falsely criminally charge and torture political dissidents at the behest of the ruling party,” said Sukhman Dhami, Co-Director of Ensaaf.
“Police are likely targeting Barapind because he is president of a recently formed political party, Akali Dal Panch Pardhani, which the current ruling Akali Dal Badal party perceives as a threat,” Dhami continued. Mr. Barapind is also an elected representative of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee.
Mr. Barapind continues to face the possibility of police remand and torture, as the police have stated publically that he is attempting to revive a militant group.
Ensaaf contacted the U.S. Embassy in India, which has an ongoing obligation to monitor Mr. Barapind’s safety under the terms of his extradition to India. The Embassy is aware of its ongoing commitment and is inquiring into the situation. Ensaaf represented Mr. Barapind in his application for relief from extradition under the Convention Against Torture. Despite presenting significant evidence that Mr. Barapind was more likely than not to be tortured, the U.S. extradited Mr. Barapind after obtaining diplomatic assurances from India that it would not torture Mr. Barapind. In India, Mr. Barapind was acquitted of all charges and released from detention in April 2008.
The Indian Government should immediately release Mr. Barapind from illegal detention and end its policy of malicious prosecutions against him and other political activists. The responsible perpetrators, including the prosecutor and the police officials, should be investigated for their roles in illegally detaining and torturing Mr. Barapind.