Surat Singh Khalsa (82) was born on March 7, 1933 in the village of Hassanpur, Ludhiana district, State of Punjab, India. Khalsa began a hunger-strike on January 16, 2015 at his ancestral village of Hassanpur. Punjab Police arrested him and forcibly admitted him to Ludhiana Civil Hospital on February 8. For 56 days — February 26 to April 23 — he was forcefed. Released without charges on April 23, he has had no sustenance since. On Thursday, 13 April 2017, he entered the 819th days of his hunger-strike. His demand is for the release of political prisoners in India who have completed their sentences, are due for release, but remain imprisoned.
Most of the prisoners were arrested during the 1980s and 1990s for protesting events like the Indian State’s invasion of the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, the 1984 Sikh Genocide sponsored by the ruling Congress Party, and the ensuing decade of death squads that systematically “disappeared” tens of thousands of Sikhs. Khalsa, who is on the verge of starving to death, stated after his April 23 release from police custody: “The struggle will continue until the political Sikh prisoners are released.” Khalsa picked up the baton of political hunger strike for release of political prisoners from Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, who twice went on hunger strike for that cause. In 2013, he refused food for 44 days, and in late 2014 he began a 64-day hunger strike that ended on January 15, 2015. The next day, Surat Singh Khalsa began his protest.