Kamal Nath summoned by US court in 1984 Sikh riots case

January 23rd, 2011 - 10:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Arun Kumar
Washington, Jan 23 (IANS) Indian Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath has been summoned by a New York court for a pre-trial conference Feb 9 for his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.The trial will proceed as the US State Department has declined to intervene in the case due to the seriousness of allegations of human rights violation against Kamal Nath, according to Gurpatwant S. Pannun, legal advisor for Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), a US based human rights advocacy group.

After being summoned by the Southern district court of New York Dec 10, 2010, Kamal Nath had sought diplomatic immunity. His request for immunity has now been turned down by the State Department, Pannun said.

In April 2010, SFJ along with two individuals filed a law suit against Kamal Nath under Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) & Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) asking the court to order compensatory and punitive damages against the minister.

According to Pannun: “Alien Tort Claims Act of United State, the law under which trial against Kamal Nath will be held is specifically created to provide remedy and forum to victims of genocide to vindicate their complaints.”

The trial against Kamal Nath “is one such opportunity through which SFJ plans to put on the record of the court evidence related to genocide of Sikhs and Kamal Nath’s role in it,” he said.

Plaintiffs have asked for a “jury trial” and will have the right to call upon survivors and experts on genocide as witnesses to prove that systematic killing of Sikhs in November 1984 was genocide as defined in Article 2 of the UN Convention on Genocide.

Responding to Kamal Nath’s comment that “no case has been filed against him in India during past 26 years”, Pannun said Nath’s argument is absurd because if a case is not filed against a criminal, it does not mean that he has not committed the crimes.

SFJ and victims of November 1984 riots also plan to launch a campaign in India asking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to sack Kamal Nath from his cabinet position for his alleged involvement in attack on Gurdawara Rakab Ganj Sahib in Delhi, Pannun said.

More than 3,000 people were killed in various clashes across north India during the riots that followed the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi Oct 31, 1984.

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

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