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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 20:42 GMT
Campaign to free Sikh activist
Gordon Brown
Campaigners want Gordon Brown to raise Mr Singh's case
The family of a British man held in prison accused of planning to cause unrest and and possessing explosives are campaigning for his freedom.

Paramjeet Singh, 54, from Wednesfield in the West Midlands, has been in prison in Punjab since he was arrested on December 23.

The Indian authorities say they found explosives and firearms on land belonging to Mr Singh, a folk singer.

The Foreign Office are aware of claims that he has been ill-treated.

A spokeswoman said a representative from the British High Commission had visited Mr Singh in prison and was in regular contact with his family.

The case of Mr Singh, who has four children and four grandchildren, is backed by his local MP, Ken Purchase, and by fellow Wolverhampton MP Rob Marris, chairman of the all-party Parliamentary group for UK Sikhs.

Mr Purchase's office said they hope Chancellor Gordon Brown will raise Mr Singh's plight during his three-day visit to India, which begins on January 17.

We're 110 per cent confident that my father will be cleared of all the charges
Ravi Gakhal, daughter

Mr Singh, a retired foundry worker, is due to appear in court again on Friday (January 19) when officials are expected to set out a timetable for his trial.

Mr Singh, who uses 'Punjab Singh' as a stage name, his wife Balvinder and three-year-old niece Sukhmani had been in India since October to work on the family's holiday home in their native Punjab.

Four days before they were due to fly home, Mr Singh was arrested as he returned by car from a religious function.

His daughter Ravi Gakhal, who works as a solicitor in Birmingham, said her father had been beaten up and humiliated to try to force him to confess to a crime he did not commit.

'Tearful'

He was stripped of his clothes and belongings including religious items such as his shorts, bangle and dagger and made to stand naked all night. He was also kicked and punched and his arms and legs were pulled wide apart, said Miss Gakhal.

She said the torture had stopped after her father complained to a judge who ordered daily medical reports to be made on him.

"We're 110 per cent confident that my father will be cleared of all the charges, it's a fit-up, but we still worry and his niece cries for him. She keeps asking where he is.

"All Indian prisons are poor and although my father always adjusts well to his circumstances, this has knocked him. At his first court hearing he was tearful because he could not believe that they were doing this to him."

Human rights campaigner

Miss Gakhal said the case against him was full of discrepancies. For example the police initially claimed that the explosives were found in the car he was travelling in.

Later they said they were on land near his holiday home - although Indian newspapers report that the police did not visit the area until after his arrest.

The Sikh Federation, which aims to give UK Sikhs a political voice, said that Mr Singh was well known as a human rights campaigner, folk singer and preacher.

It said his outspoken views had led to his wrongful arrest and imprisonment by the Indian authorities four years ago. On that occasion the charges against him were later dropped.

The federation said it was co-ordinating an international political campaign to exert pressure on the Indian authorities and had already contacted over 200 UK MPs and all UK MEPs in the last 10 days.

Miss Gakhal said she believed her father's imprisonment was connected to next month's elections in Punjab.

Mr Singh had been travelling with Bhai Jasbir Singh, a leading figure in the international Sikh community.




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