Indian authorities must carry the blame for the sad death of Avtar Singh Khanda
It is with the greatest sadness that we share the shocking news that the young Panthic Activist Bhai Avtar Singh Khanda (35) has passed away in a Birmingham hospital this morning.
Like his father Shaheed Bhai Kulwant Singh, Bhai Avtar Singh dedicated himself to the Sikh struggle. He was a well-known activist who never refrained from speaking the truth about atrocities committed by the Indian authorities and was a staunch campaigner for a Sikh homeland, Khalistan.
It has been reported he has been on the Indian radar since 2015 when Narendra Modi handed a “dossier” to David Cameron on Sikh organisations and activists in the UK who were raising concerns about the atrocities committed by the Indian authorities.
However, in the last three months the Indian authorities became obsessed with him and began a vindictive hate campaign against him and his family, spreading lies that were promoted by the Indian media because of close family ties with both Deep Sidhu and Bhai Amritpal Singh.
At the same time his family in India were targeted by the Indian police. These lies, false media reports and his family being targeted would have caused immense mental and physical strain, especially to someone terminally ill with blood cancer which is now being reported by the same Indian media.
There is much speculation across the globe about the cause of his sudden and sad demise. Some are concluding he may have been the victim of a political assassination by the Indian authorities with fingers being pointed to the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The NIA recently sent a team to the UK who have been working with Scotland Yard. They have controversially been releasing CCTV footage and photographs to target law-abiding Sikh protesters. The Indian authorities should be aware that British courts have ruled the use of edited CCTV footage by the police proves nothing other than participation in a protest and represents an abuse of power.
The exact cause of Avtar Singh Khanda’s death has yet to be determined but either way the Indian authorities must carry the blame for causing his death. It may prove impossible for the wider Sikh community to get closure unless the full facts surrounding his death emerge. We must however respect the privacy of Avtar Singh’s friends and family at this sad time.
Jaspal Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation UK