• Tuesday, April 23, 2024


Concerns raised over Sikh activist’s sudden death

Despite earlier assertions by West Midlands police of conducting a thorough inquiry into Avtar Singh Khanda’s death, concerns were raised about the lack of essential investigative actions

A portrait of late Sikh activist Avtar Singh Khanda is hanged on a wall in the Panjab Broadcasting Channel television station studio, where he previously worked, in Smethwick, near Birmingham, central England, on October 18, 2023 (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

A senior Conservative MP, Neil O’Brien, has raised concerns about the sudden death of Sikh activist Avtar Singh Khanda in Birmingham last year. Writing to Home Secretary James Cleverly, O’Brien who is the MP for Harborough questioned the circumstances surrounding Khanda’s death, particularly as it coincided with reported plots to kill Sikh activists in North America.

Expressing deep concern, O’Brien highlighted discrepancies in the police investigation.

Despite earlier assertions by West Midlands police of conducting a thorough inquiry into Khanda’s death, points were raised about the lack of essential investigative actions, such as gathering statements from family, friends, colleagues, employers, retracing Khanda’s steps before his illness, or studying threats against him, The Guardian reported.

According to O’Brien, Khanda’s residence was also not visited and neither was a case number issued by the police.

The MP’s letter urged clarification from the police on the specifics of their investigation.

O’Brien said, “If this is correct, is it possible to find out from West Midlands police what their investigation consisted of, if not the actions above?”

Khanda, a vocal advocate for Khalistan, a separate Sikh state, was admitted to Birmingham’s Sandwell hospital in June and diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, passing away two days later.

His death was deemed natural, but skepticism lingered among friends and family, prompting calls for a formal inquest.

Despite initial assurances from West Midlands police of a comprehensive review, revelations later emerged that essential investigative measures weren’t undertaken. The police, instead, referred the matter to the coroner, stating no suspicious circumstances were found.

O’Brien’s letter marks a significant intervention by a prominent British politician and intensifies pressure on authorities to delve deeper into Khanda’s demise.

Representing a constituency with a substantial Sikh population, O’Brien emphasised the family’s plight, stressing on the necessity for a thorough investigation to offer closure.

He said, “While I obviously am in no position to judge the facts of this case, it is concerning that the bereaved family of this young man have been left feeling that his death has not been properly investigated, which much make it difficult for them to find peace.”

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