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US court summons Congress party on Sikh riots case

Wednesday March 02, 2011 12:15:18 PM, Arun Kumar, IANS

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New York: A US court has issued summons to India's Congress party to answer charges of "conspiring, aiding, abetting and carrying out organized attacks on Sikh population of India in November 1984."

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York issued the summons Tuesday in a class action law suit filed by Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), a US based community group along with several Sikh survivors of the 1984 attacks.

The compliant against Congress alleges that in November 1984 the "organized killing" of Sikhs took place only in states where Congress was in power, according to SFJ legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

According to the Government of India's record a total of 3296 Sikhs were killed while a total of 35,535 claims for deaths and injuries were received throughout India, he said.

But "The gravity, scale and specially the organized nature of these attacks was concealed by the Indian governments' portraying them as 'November 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots of Delhi,'" Pannun said.

These attacks were neither "riots" nor were they confined to Delhi alone. In fact, during November 1984, Sikhs were attacked in 18 states and more than 100 cities of India in an identical manner and the attackers were led by Congress (I) leaders, the complaint alleged.

Indian National Congress, the political party in power then and now, committed the crime of Genocide against Sikhs as defined in Article 2 of UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948, it said.

The government of India, by painting the attacks on Sikhs in November 1984 as "riots" instead of "Genocide" and by failing to punish the leaders of Congress (I), violated its duties under Article 1 the Genocide Convention, Pannun said.

Seeking relief under Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) is motivated by an interest in seeking some form of justice for the victims of November 1984 Sikh Genocide, he said.

It will raise awareness to the international community regarding denial of justice to the victims and is a means of holding parties in power accountable for their gross violations of human rights - while also offering the potential to deter future abuses, Pannun said.

The SFJ complaint also refers to the February 2011 discovery of "mass grave" of Sikhs who were killed in November 1984 in Haryana.
 


(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

 

 

 

 

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