Badal hit by human rights lawsuit in US

August 9th, 2012 - 11:40 am ICT by IANS  

Milwaukee (Wisconsin), Aug 9 (IANS) Visiting Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has been hit by a federal lawsuit by a Sikh human rights group alleging that he oversaw the torture of Sikhs in India.

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin Wednesday issued summons against Badal on a 30-page complaint filed by Avtar Singh of New York, who lists himself as coordinator of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).

The lawsuit contends that Badal had shielded police officials who inflicted custodial torture and were responsible for the extra judicial killings and continuous human rights violations against the Sikh community in Punjab.

It claims the federal court has jurisdiction under the Torture Victim Protection and Alien Tort laws, and because Badal is currently in Wisconsin.

The court summons give Badal, who has been chief minister of Punjab for more than 12 years from 1997 till 2002 and from 2007 till present, 21 days to answer the charges.

The lawsuit against Badal seeks jury trial.

“The lawsuit will raise awareness to the international community regarding the torture and extrajudicial killings of Sikhs in the state of Punjab by the security forces,” said SFJ attorney Gurpatwant Pannun.

It “will send a strong message to political leaders that they will not be able to visit United States without being answerable to the international laws and the courts for their role in gross human rights violations”, he added.

Badal arrived in Milwaukee Tuesday on a previously planned the trip to attend the wedding of businessman Darshan Dhaliwal’s daughter on the weekend, before Sunday’s attack on worshippers at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek.

Badal visited with victims’ families Wednesday. He declined to comment about the suit, saying he hadn’t seen it, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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