Singh, who hosts a Punjabi-language news program on YouTube, was arrested in October 2015 in the northern Indian state of Punjab, on anti-terror charges relating to a complaint filed against him in June 1988, according to reports. CPJ could not determine the exact date of his arrest.
Singh’s news program “Talking Punjab” has more than 13,000 YouTube subscribers. It features local news, including reports on drug abuse, the government’s alleged failure to compensate farmers affected by a pesticide that caused crop damage, and critical reports on the judiciary.
Singh was active on social media and has more than 22,000 followers on his Facebook page, “Surinder Singh – Talking Punjab.” Singh had commented on recent political and religious unrest in the state before his arrest. He was also interviewed as a political analyst on Punjabi news programs.
Singh is being held under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, commonly known as TADA, an anti-terror law introduced in the 1980s, according to reports. The act lapsed in 1995, according to Human Rights Watch.
The complaint made against Singh in 1988 is in connection with his affiliation to the Sikh Students Federation, a student political group, according to the Tribune, Sikh news website Sikh24, and Sikh advocacy groups. After the assassination of then-prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, a wave of violence against Sikhs broke out across much of the country.
CPJ was unable to determine the details of the 1988 complaint, and whether he had been arrested or questioned about the complaint at the time.
Singh’s next court hearing was scheduled to take place on December 17, 2015, according to a Punjabi-language Facebook post on his page.
Singh is being held at the central jail in Ambala, in neighboring Haryana state. CPJ was unable to determine the state of his health.