Thailand extradites Sikh militant despite torture fears

Rights groups claim Jagtar ‘Tara’ Singh faces torture and possible death sentence in India

Thailand extradites Sikh militant despite torture fears

World Bulletin/News Desk

Thailand has extradited a Sikh nationalist accused of masterminding a deadly bomb attack, police said Friday amid claims by human rights groups that he faces torture in India.

General Prawut Thawonsiri, a spokesman for the Thai police, told reporters Jagtar ‘Tara’ Singh had been returned to India Thursday night after the Supreme Court approved an extradition request from New Delhi.

“He was sent back at 8.30 p.m [1330GMT],” Thawonsiri said. “It followed court procedure.”

Singh had been wanted by India since he tunneled his way out of a high-security prison in 2004.

He had been held over his involvement in a 1995 bombing that killed former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh and 17 others, including aides and soldiers. The ex-minister was targeted over his policy of tackling Sikh militants.

In an exclusive interview with The Anadolu Agency Thursday, Singh admitted his involvement in the blast.

“I recognize my involvement in the bombing,” he said during a brief interview at Bangkok’s remand prison.

Before the execution of the extradition order became known, human rights organizations warned Thailand that Singh risked torture and a death sentence if returned to India.

“There are many instances showing that Sikh nationalists sent back to India were tortured and are today crippled,” Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a legal advisor for U.S.-based Sikhs for Justice, told a press conference in Bangkok Friday.

In 2007, Singh was sentenced in absentia to life in prison.

Reacting to the extradition, Danthong Breen, a Thai human rights activist, told The Anadolu Agency that the process was illegal.

“The extradition order is based on a document written by Jagtar Tara Singh where he said he renounced legal representation in Thailand and agree to go back to India,” he said.

“Jagtar Tara Singh has no education and doesn’t understand English well. The letter was dictated to him by Indian officials. According to Thai law, he has the right to recant his statement within thirty days.”

During his interview with an AA correspondent, Singh said Indian officials had told him he was not entitled to legal representation in Thailand and had “dictated” a document for him to sign.

The 37-year-old also claimed he had been interrogated by Indian intelligence officers.

Singh was arrested in the seaside resort of Pattaya on Jan. 5 by Thai police accompanied by Indian officials.

He was a member of Babbar Khalsa, a militant group fighting for a Sikh homeland in the Punjab, when he was involved in the bombing in Chandigarh in August 1995.

Singh later broke away to form the Khalistan Tiger Force.

In a sensational escape in 2004, Singh and three other prisoners dug their way out of Burail Model jail.

According to Indian media, he fled to Pakistan where he obtained a Pakistani passport under the name Gurmeet Singh. Thai police said he entered Thailand in October last year.

Despite his Pakistani nationality, no officials from that country’s embassy have contacted him since his arrest and Thai officials have treated him as an Indian.

 

Last Mod: 16 Ocak 2015, 14:57
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