Sikh community concerned for welfare of asylum refugee arrested whilst on holiday
December 22nd, UK – Sikh groups across the world have expressed concern for the wellbeing of Paramjeet Singh following a move to have him extradited to India after his arrest by Interpol in Portugal.
Paramjeet was arrested on December 19th whilst taking his wife and four young children on a winter break. He has been in the UK for 13 years as a refugee on asylum. Paramjit was granted asylum status after UK officials agreed his life was in danger having been accused of being involved with separatist groups. Paramjeet’s brother was tortured in jail and was subsequently murdered in a case which remains unsolved.
Paramjeet’s local councillor Preet Kaur Gill said:
“I was alerted to Paramjeet’s situation by members of my constituency. I have since put Paramjeet’s wife in touch with the British consulate in Portugal and he now has a solicitor present. I am liaising with MP John Spellar to ensure due process is followed in this case. I have also been in regular contact with the Sikh Federation UK.
“However, questions remain. Why was Paramjeet arrested only once he left the UK? If the British government feels he will not receive a fair trial in India, is it right for Portugal to allow him to be extradited? Are Portugal in breach of EU laws by extraditing him somewhere that allows the death penalty? Before any decision is made on Paramjeet’s future, it is only right these questions are answered.
“I urge the British government to share the basis upon which Paramjeet was granted asylum with their Portuguese counterparts.”
Paramjeet is due in court in Portugal where his fate will be decided by January 4th, with Indian authorities given until then to provide enough evidence to have him extradited. His family currently remain in Portugal, in the Algarve region of the country.
Indian media sources claim Paramjeet is wanted for questioning by police in relation to the murder of Rulda Singh, head of the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, a wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS is a far-right Indian nationalist group complicit in communal killings and associated with fascism. Rulda Singh died of gunshot wounds in 2009.
The Sikh Federation UK said of that matter:
“With Indian media suggesting Paramjeet’s arrest is in connection with the Rulda Singh case, it must be noted that Paramjeet was arrested for this in 2010 by British police, who found no evidence connecting him with the case. This was after an 11 month investigation which involved Indian police working with their British counterparts. This year in February an Indian court also acquitted five more Sikhs accused of being involved with the same case.
“Paramjeet was one of the Sikhs mentioned by name in an Indian Intelligence dossier released in November which made allegations – yet to be proven – that there is growing Sikh militancy in the UK. Indian media have already been quick to label Paramjeet as a ‘terrorist’ and ‘militant’ without any evidence. We would hope that this situation is not a reaction to these rumours and that Paramjeet’s case is judged solely upon hard evidence.”
Paramjit’s wife, Pinky Kaur, said:
“It was really distressing to see Paramjeet taken away without knowing what was happening to him. Paramjeet is a loving father and seeing him dragged off has really upset our young children. Paramjit’s brother and cousin have already been killed in India. His parents are constantly hassled by the police in Punjab. We know that if he gets taken to India we will never see him again. The UK government let us stay in England because they know what will happen to him if he is arrested. I hope the UK government again intervene to stop him being extradited.”
AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW
- Sandwell Labour Councillor Preet Kaur Gill
- Representatives of Sikh Federation UK
- Quotes also available from friends and family of Paramjeet Singh