Welcome to SOPW – “The Sikh Organisation for Prisoners Welfare”, a Registered Charity (UK), run by volunteers, working to achieve justice for those, who have been illegally imprisoned and tortured and their families.
SOPW is the only charity in the world whose mandate is solely to ensure the civil rights of Sikh Political Prisoners are ensured in India. Its success and progress is down to the support of the Sangat, we rely on your support to continue and develop this worthy project.
It is a unique charity whose volunteers work tirelessly to bring much needed support and comfort to the many innocent prisoners illegally imprisoned, tortured and languishing in Indian jails without charge or under fabricated charges. SOPW works to achieve justice for them and helps with the welfare of their families, their world is literally turned upside down
SOPW was founded in 2008 by Bhai Balbir Singh Bains who was arrested in 1999 by Delhi police who said they had found a consignment of RDX explosives. However, due to international support for the UK national, the case was taken to the Supreme Court where the judge threw out the charges, calling them a “balloon of falsehoods” after it emerged the RDX in question had come from a police warehouse.
Whilst in Tihar Jail, Balbir Singh met Professor DevinderPal Singh Bhullar - He had one simple request for Balbir Singh Bains who would be free soon, he implored him to take the plight of the Sikh Prisoners to the Sikh Diaspora. We were silenced within these four wall, please be our VOICE and bring us HOPE.
SOPW funds all legal fees that go towards paying for the legal help and lawyers who fight the cases of these innocent prisoners and help them come out and rebuild their lives. In addition to funding legal cases, SOPW provides monthly support to the prisoners, consisting of basic needs such as clothes, soap, hair oil etc.
Many of the prisoners currently being supported have never been convicted or even charged with any offence, but have been unlawfully detained nonetheless for as long as 20 years. Furthermore, many Sikhs have been convicted solely on the evidence of signed confessions extracted under torture.
You lived a normal family life in Punjab, farming your fields daily and looking after your family. Imagine being one day picked up by police while you are out shopping for groceries for no reason and put into a police car. Imagine being told you are a terrorist because you were seen with so and so or you shouted ‘Khalistan’ once. Imagine being tied up and brutally tortured for information about other Sikhs that you know nothing about. Imagine being put in a jail cell without any trial or formal charge. Imagine not knowing when you will be able to see your family again. Imagine waiting weeks or months before going to court to face trial, only to find the court date has been postponed for another few months. Imagine not being able to afford a lawyer and having to represent yourself. Imagine finding out from family members that they can’t cope without your income because you’re the sole breadwinner. Imagine being worried sick about how your family are coping without you and how your children are growing up without a father.
Imagine feeling that the Sikh community has forgotten about you. Imagine writing to Sikh authorities to ask for help and receiving no reply. Imagine not being able to get the basic necessities of soap, clean clothes, decent food and blankets without kicking a fuss. Imagine waiting years in this state, trial after trial being postponed, with no formal charge or sentence.
Imagine questioning your own faith and whether being a Sikh is worth all this because you have not heard from your own community. Imagine praying every day for freedom with no hope in sight and your faith dwindling day by day.
Imagine some stranger turning up at your jail cell saying “Bhai Sahib Jee, we have assigned a good lawyer to look at your case and clear your name!” Imagine being told that your family is receiving a monthly income to help them out of poverty. Imagine being told that your children’s education is being looked after and paid for. Imagine receiving letters from total strangers from different parts of the world saying that they are praying for you and to keep faith in Guru Jee.
Imagine someone asking you all the things you need in jail as basic necessities and then being handed them over to you without question. Imagine finally going to court and this new lawyer clearing your name and getting you released immediately. Imagine seeing a group of strangers waiting for you outside with your family in good health and then taking you all back to your home. Imagine your treatment in hospital for all the bruises and broken parts of your anatomy (due to the brutal torture endured while in jail) being paid for by someone you don’t know. Imagine someone coming to see you regularly to help you cope with getting back into normal life and counsel you for your daily mental trauma (post-traumatic disorder).
- What would it be like to one day find that you have been accused of being a Sikh terrorist?
- To have your job and livelihood stripped from you in an instant?
- To watch your family suffer, due to the absence of your income to help cover the bills and mortgage payments.
- To have to wait months to fight your case in the long judicial process,
- To be told you can’t see or know the evidence against you.
- To feel ostracised and let down by your own community.
- To call out for help to many Sikhs but only get few replies and answers your pleas.
- To find very few that will help you in your time of need.
- To finally get your name cleared and be able to live your life again fully without any repercussions.
All contributions and donations helps Sikh Organisation of Prisoner Welfare continue the much needed seva that is so important to make it a reality for all those that want the basic human right “FREEDOM”.