CONGRESS (I) SUMMONED BY U.S. FEDERAL COURT FOR ORGANIZING NOVEMBER 1984 SIKH MASSACRE
On March 01, 2011, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued summons against Congress (I) for conspiring, aiding, abetting and carrying out organized attacks on Sikh population of India in November 1984. The summons against Congress have been issued pursuant to a class action law suit filed (SFJ v. Congress (I) SDNY (10 CV 2940)) under Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). The plaintiffs in the case against Congress (I) are “Sikhs For Justice” (SFJ) a US based human rights group along with several Sikhs from different states and cities of India who survived attacks in November 1984.
According to attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to “Sikhs For Justice” (SFJ), “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”. 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.
Basis of the law suit against Congress (I) is that in November 1984 the “organized killing” of Sikh took place only in states where Congress (I) was in power. According to the Government of India’s record a total of 3296 Sikhs were killed during November 1984. The information was released by Ministry of Home Affairs with seal and signatures of Director A.K. Saxena in response to an RTI Application filed by Panjab & Haryana advocate and Chief Legal Counsel for Sikhs For Justice, Navkiran Singh.
While a total of 35,535 claims for deaths and injuries during November 1984 were received throughout India. Out of more than 35 thousand claims, only 11,164 claims were from Delhi while more than 20,000 claims were from Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir; Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttara Khand, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
The complaint begins with the February 2011 discovery of “Mass Grave” of Sikhs who were killed in November 1984 in state of Haryana. A senior Congress party leader and former Union Home Minister of India, Buta Singh on February 21, 2011 alleged that then Haryana Chief Minister and Congress leader Bhajan Lal organized the attacks on Sikhs in Haryana during November 1984.
Attorney Pannun stated that seeking relief under the ATCA and TVPA is motivated by an interest in seeking some form of justice for the victims of November 1984 Sikh Genocide, will raise awareness to the international community regarding denial of justice to the victims and is a mean of holding parties in power accountable for their gross violations of human rights – while also offering the potential to deter future abuses.
As per Jatinder Singh Grewal, Youth Coordinator, Sikhs For Justice, Indian National Congress (Congress-I), 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.
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 further stated Grewal.
According to Avtar Singh Pannu, Barjinder Singh Brar, Charanjit Singh Harnampuri, Dr. Bakhshish Singh Sandhu, Master Mohinder Singh and Dilvar Singh Sekhon, Coordinators, Sikhs For Justice, Government of India lost its credibility by shielding those responsioble for the genocide of Sikhs during November 1984 and now Sikhs are forced to take the matter of November 1984 Sikh Genocide issue to the international forum. The forlorn debris and human remains at village Hondh-Chillar in Haryana discovered after 26 years are the most specific and convincing evidence of Sikhs localities being attacked and wiped out throughout India in an identical pattern during November 1984. The evidence discovered on site indicates systematic pattern in which armed groups lead by Congress Leaders would cordon Sikh neighborhoods, rape the women and burn the men and children alive.
Gurpatwant S Pannun, Attorney at Law
Legal Advisor, Sikhs For Justice