India: The Shiromani Akali Dal political parties in Punjab, as well as their leaders, political platforms, and elected members (at federal and state levels); the human rights situation of members and supporters of the parties (2002-2004)
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||12 October 2004|
|Citation / Document Symbol||IND43016.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, India: The Shiromani Akali Dal political parties in Punjab, as well as their leaders, political platforms, and elected members (at federal and state levels); the human rights situation of members and supporters of the parties (2002-2004), 12 October 2004, IND43016.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/42df610514.html [accessed 21 September 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Shiromani Akali Dal Parties and their Leaders in Punjab
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is the principal political party representing Sikhs in India (Global Perspectives n.d.; Political Parties of the World 2002, 246). Since the early 1980s, the SAD has experienced factional rivalry and division (ibid.).
According to a professor of political science from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, who specializes in Indian politics, the SAD (Badal) is the dominant faction (9 Oct. 2004; see also The Freedictionary.com n.d.). Several sources state that Parkash Singh Badal is the president of this faction (ibid.; India 2004a; Times of India 26 September 2004b; The Tribune 12 July 2004b). For further information on the SAD (Badal), please see IND42758.FE of 11 June 2004.
The SAD (Mann), led by Simranjit Singh Mann, was an "element of the pro-Khalistan movement" but has "largely faded" (Professor of political science 9 Oct. 2004). Simranjit Singh Mann now leads SAD (Amritsar) (The Freedictionary.com n.d.; Times of India 25 Sept. 2004; ibid. 30 Apr. 2004).
According to the Times of India, Karnail Singh Panjoli is among the senior leaders of the SAD (Longowal) (26 Sept. 2004a). No mention of the president of the SAD (Longowal) could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
Sources indicate that Rajdev Singh is the president of the SAD (Panthic) (The Tribune 13 June 2003; The Freedictionary.com n.d.).
According to the Times of India, Sharanjit Singh Dhillon heads the Youth Akali Dal (9 Feb. 2004).
The All-India SAD, also known as the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), was led by the former president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Gurcharan Singh Tohra (The Freedictionary.com n.d.; The Tribune 13 June 2003), until his death in May 2004 (The Freedictionary.com n.d.; Times of India 3 Apr. 2004). In June 2003, The Tribune reported the announcement of a merger between the All-India SAD and the SAD (Badal) (13 June 2004). Further information on the merger could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
Historically, the mandate of the SAD has been to represent the "Panthic" or the Sikh voice in public policy (The Freedictionary.com n.d.; Global Perspectives n.d.). Parkash Singh Badal and Gurcharan Tohra expressed their desire for party members to work towards this goal when announcing the unity of their factions in 2003 (The Tribune 13 June 2003). No information on the specific political platforms of the various SAD factions could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
Elected Members of the SAD at the Federal and State Levels
According to The Tribune, on 11 July 2004, the SAD (Badal) won 131 of 166 seats in the SGPC general house, the Sikh political body (Frontline 5-8 Feb. 2000) in charge of maintaining Sikh temples in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh (16 July 2004). The Hindustan Times, however, reported that the SAD (Badal) won 148 out of 182 seats in the SGPC general house in the same election (23 Sept. 2004).
According to sources consulted by the Research Directorate, Bibi Jagir Kaur, a SAD (Badal) member recently elected to the SGPC and selected as its president for a second term, is facing charges in connection with the death of her teenage daughter (Hindustan Times 23 Sept. 2004; Times of India 26 Sept. 2004b).
In the most recent state elections, held in February 2002 in Punjab, the SAD (Badal) became the main opposition party by winning 43 of 117 seats in the state legislature (Rulers Feb. 2002). Attempts to obtain a list of SAD members elected to the Punjab legislature were unsuccessful within time constraints.
Federal general elections were held in India in May 2004, and the following members of the SAD were elected to the Lok Sabha (House of the People):
Dr. Rattan Singh Ajnala
Shri Charanjit Singh Atwal
Shri Sukhbir Singh Badal
Shri Sharanjit Singh Dhillon
Shri Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa
Ms. Paramjit Kaur Gulshan
Shri Sukhdev Singh Libra
Sardar Zora Singh Mann (India 2004b).
The professor of political science from the University of Missouri confirmed that members of the SAD (Badal) have won seats in the most recent elections for the state assembly, the national parliament and the SGPC general house, and at the moment, SAD (Badal) faces no significant opposition from other SAD factions (9 Oct. 2004).
Human Rights Situation of SAD Members and Supporters
The Business Standard reported that SAD leader Jagpal Singh Sohali was shot dead near a polling station in Ludhiana, Punjab on voting day in May 2004 (11 May 2004). However, it did not provide the name of the SAD faction to which he belonged or details on the incident. For more information on election-day clashes in May 2004 and the treatment of SAD (Badal) members between 2002 and 2004, please refer to IND42758.FE of 11 June 2004. No further reports on the current treatment of SAD members or supporters could be found among the sources consulted.
For further information about the SGPC, please see IND42985.E of 21 September 2004. To obtain a partial list of names of SAD members elected to the SGPC in 2004, please refer to the attached 12 July 2004 Tribune article entitled "SGPC Poll: It Is SAD all the Way."
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Business Standard [Delhi]. 11 May 2004. "50-55% Turnout For Final Phase." (Dialog)
The Freedictionary.com. n.d. "Akali Dal."
Frontline. 5-8 February 2000. Volume 17, Issue 3. Praveen Swami. "The Clergy vs. the SGPC."
Global Perspectives. n.d. "Demands for Khalistan."
Hindustan Times [Delhi]. 23 September 2004. "Bibi Jagir Kaur Elected New SGPC President."
India. 2004a. Election Commission. "Shiromani Akali Dal."
_____. 2004b. Indian Parliament. "Members of Fourteenth Lok Sabha."
Political Parties of the World. 2002. 5th Edition. Edited by Alan J. Day. London: John Harper Publishing.
Professor of Political Science, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri. 9 Oct. 2004. Correspondence.
Rulers. February 2002. "India."
Times of India [Delhi]. 26 September 2004a. Gur Kirpal Singh Ashk. "SGPC's Condition Deteriorated after Tohra's Death."
_____. 26 September 2004b. Gur Kirpal Singh Ashk. "Only a Strong SGPC Chief Can Protect Sikh Interests."
_____. 25 September 2004. Gur Kirpal Singh Ashk. "Tiranga Yatra Hits Mann Roadblock."
_____. 30 April 2004. "Women Canvas [sic] For Relatives." (Dialog)
_____. 3 April 2004. Gur Kirpal Singh Ashk. "Tohra Cremated with Full State Honours." (Dialog)
_____. 9 February 2004. "Mann, Ravi Inder Part Of Congs B Team: Sukhbir." (Dialog)
The Tribune [Chandigarh]. 16 July 2004. "SGPC Results Released."
The Tribune [Chandigarh]. 12 July 2004. "SGPC Poll: It is SAD All the Way."
_____. 12 July 2004. "Badal Emerges as Tallest Sikh Leader."
_____. 13 June 2003. "Badal, Tohra Factions Unite: Loyalists Not Taken into Confidence."
The Tribune [Chandigarh]. 12 July 2004. "SGPC Poll: It is SAD All the Way."
Additional Sources Consulted
One oral source contacted for this Response did not provide information within time constraints.
Internet sites: Amnesty International, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Minorities at Risk – "Assessment for Sikhs in India," Punjab Government, punjab.com, South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (New Delhi).