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India: Minority Groups

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 15966, tabled on 10 November 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will raise the issue of minority rights during the visit of Prime Minister Modi of India; and if he will specifically raise (a) Sikh political prisoners in India and (b) the case of Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa.

Answered on

20 November 2015

Human rights were discussed during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the United Kingdom. We welcome his reaffirmation that he governs for all Indians. The British High Commission in India regularly discusses the treatment of minorities, including the Sikh community, with the Indian National Commission for Minorities and with state governments across India. I also personally raised the issue of religious minorities with the Indian Minister of External Affairs, General V K Singh on 5 November. Relations between the Sikh community in India and the Indian government are ultimately an internal matter, but we encourage both parties to resolve their differences through dialogue.

Although India’s Supreme Court partially lifted its suspension on the premature release of life prisoners by state governments on 23 July, the Court ruled that this would not apply to those cases which were investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI); central agencies or under federal law. This ruling applies to all cases regardless of the perpetrator’s ethnic identity. Specific issues of sentencing are a matter for the Indian authorities and we cannot interfere in their judicial system.

We are aware of Surat Singh Khalsa’s hunger strike and continue to monitor developments, including Mr Singh Khalsa’s health.