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This is Mata Gurmeet Kaur, the mother of Bhai Gurpreet Singh Khalsa. Their lives, like many others during the peak of the Sikh Genocide, have been drastically affected by many unfortunate events. Mata Ji lives in their ancestral village just outside of Ludhiana on her own as she waits for the release of her only son. The story of this mother and son begins in the 1980s when Mata Ji’s husband Bhai Trilok Singh was falsely arrested like many thousands of others at that time and spent two years in prison before he was released. Despite trying to lead a normal life upon release, whenever police suspected any type of political activism in the area, they would come and arrest Bhai Trilok Singh. Mata Ji, in a recent interview, stated that the police officers main motive was to conduct frequent raids in order to frustrate her family and instil fear. Police in many instances would also arrest relatives, household employees and labourers. After enduring such harassment relatives and employees would leave which further isolated the family. Their son Gurpreet was very young at that time and as a child he witnessed police harassing his loved ones daily.  As we have seen in many of the cases we deal with, this tactic is used to psychologically break down family members so that they become incapable of helping themselves let alone their community. In repeated arrests, the main breadwinner’s job is interrupted and so the main source of income decreases causing stress for the family as a whole.  

This level of harassment continued throughout the late 1980s until 1990. One afternoon a group of police officers came to take Bhai Trilok Singh for questioning for reasons that are still unknown and decided to let him go by the evening. The family thought all was well however the next morning at 7am, the same police officers turned up at the family residence. Everyone assumed that once again Bhai Trilok Singh was being subjected to the same cycle of questioning and being released after a day or so. Yet that was the last time Mata Ji and her son Gurpreet saw Bhai Trilok Singh. To this day the police have not provided any sufficient explanation as to why they took Bhai Sahib for questioning and where he is now. Instead they offered a nonsensical story about a group of kharkhus (a term used for people in the Sikh Resistance movement) that shot Bhai Trilok Singh by a river. On many levels this ridiculous story makes absolutely no sense because if Bhai Trilok Singh was in custody how could he have been taken by a group of kharkhus? Mata Ji states that to this day she has received no news on her husband’s whereabouts and on the contrary, the police suspect that Bhai Trilok Singh is alive and is routinely meeting the family! Ironically, the police still come to question Mata Ji to find out about where her husband is despite the fact that police officers took her husband away twenty-three years ago.

Mata Ji recalls how these horrific events deeply affected Gurpreet Singh Khalsa on an emotional level. Like many other young men and women his age who had witnessed harassment by the authorities and disappearances of loved ones, he decided to venture abroad for a chance of a better life. Bhai Gurpreet Singh Khalsa began a new life in Malaysia and worked hard to send back money to his mother and it seemed that life had finally taken a turn for the better. Yet once again, life was going to take a turn for the worst. In 2007, Bhai Gurpreet Singh Khalsa went back to India to visit his mother when he was arrested and falsely implicated in a serious of cases. What was to be a visit to his mother ended up destroying their only source of income and a chance for a better life for the both of them. Instead he was horrifically tortured and thrown into jail just like his father was. In many cases families with a history of harassment from police often witness subsequent younger generations being subjected to similar, if not worse treatment by the authorities. Both Mata Ji and Bhai Gurpreet Singh Khalsa have had absolutely no respite from the tragedies they have faced since 1985.   

Still a young man, Bhai Gurpreet Singh Khalsa is now incarcerated in the same prison his father was; Nabha Maximum Security Prison. Not one to spend his time idly, Bhai Gurpreet Singh Khalsa at the insistence of his mother has been studying for his undergraduate and masters degree. He told his mother that through all the tragedies they have faced, as a Sikh he still vows to remain in chardikala (positive and optimistic spirits).  

Mata Ji wanted to pass on the following message to the sangat:

“Since 1985, my family has been consistently tormented by police and various authorities. My son Gurpreet Singh Khalsa was just a young toddler when his father was first arrested. Throughout his childhood he saw his whole family being harassed by police up to the point of his own unfortunate and needless arrest and torture. We are now fed up by the treatment meted out to us. I want my son to be freed so we can pick up the pieces and resume some sort of life. I thank the sangat for their support and hope that they continue to help people like me and my son.”

We humbly request that the sangat continues to support us so that we can reach out to people like Mata Ji and Bhai Gurpreet Singh Khalsa. After suffering in isolation for so long, political prisoners like Bhai Gurpreet Singh and their families deserve our help. We thank you all for your support.  

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