NYC Sikhs protest appearance of Indian minister

Apr 08, 2010 10:11 AM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) - Several dozen Sikhs on Thursday protested a speech by an Indian minister who they say instigated mob riots in their country in 1984 that left more than 3,000 dead, most of them Sikhs. About 60 members of the Sikhs for Justice, a U.S.-based human rights organization, gathered outside McGraw-Hill's headquarters in Manhattan where Kamal Nath, India's federal minister in charge of road transport and highways and a Congress party member of India's Parliament, was addressing McGraw-Hill Construction's Global Construction Summit.

"We want to put him behind bars. Anyone guilty should be behind bars," said Avtar Singh Pannu of Queens, the group's coordinator. The group's legal adviser, Gurpatwant S. Pannun, called Nath "a violator of human rights" who shouldn't be in the U.S. The 1984 riots remain a controversial issue in India.

They were sparked by the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was gunned down by her Sikh bodyguards after ordering a crackdown on Sikh separatists in northern India.