The family of a Lathrop man believed to be jailed in India are turning to the State Department for help in determining why the American citizen was imprisoned and why he hasn’t been able to contact his family back in the United States for help.
According to a press release issued last week by the Organization for Minorities of India, Ravinder Jeet Singh Gogi – a Lathrop businessman who owns the Dasmesh Truck Driving School – traveled to the Punjabi region of India to be closer to his ailing father who for nearly two months has been on a hunger strike in protest of the unwarranted detention of other Sikh political activists and journalists by Indian forces.
The cause of Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa – Singh’s father – has become a widely circulated story in portions of India after his self-sacrifice became representative for what some saw as a much larger issue.
But according to OFMI.org, other high-ranking Punjabi officials that have been ensnared in political traps over the years – even those who are American citizens – don’t always fare well.
In a release Balbir Singh Dhillon, the President of the Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara and was held by Punjabi police in 1996, said that believes that “Ravinder’s life is in danger unless the United States gets involved on his behalf.”
“If I wasn’t an American citizen, I would have been killed,” said Dhillon – who was falsely imprisoned for six months before being released after a massive outpouring of support from 50 congressional representatives helped secure his release.
A representative from the United States Department of State said that he couldn’t comment specifically on this issue because of privacy laws governing American citizens and intergovernmental exchanges – if there was in fact one taking place in this matter.
It is believed that Ravinder Singh was arrested on Feb. 26. Those closest to him are calling him a political prisoner and are saying that he has not yet been told what he has been charged with and hasn’t been allowed to contact them.
“I just want the embassy to know that taking away my father from our family is not only hurting us, because I have to go to his business every day after school, spending three or four hours of my own time at the business – it’s taking my life away from education,” 16-year-old Sahib Singh said in a press conference last week. “And family-wise not having him at the dinner table is kind of lonely. It’s not the same not having the presence of a strong figure there in my life every day.”
Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal said that he’s aware of the situation and knows only what he’s been able to read through the Pubjabi media and hear from people within the community.