- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 26, 2013

As Indian Prime Minister Mahmohan Singh arrives in Washington to meet with President Obama on Friday, a Sikh rights group has secured a federal court summons against the foreign leader.

The action, according to the New York-based Sikhs for Justice organization, stems from Mr. Singh’s role in 1990s counterinsurgency operations in Punjab and other anti-Sikh violence.

Mr. Singh has been India’s prime minister since 2004; before that, he served as the nation’s finance minister and also held other high-level posts within the Indian government.

Sikh groups plan to hold a “justice rally” in front of the White House on Friday as Mr. Obama sits down with his Indian counterpart, a meeting expected to focus heavily on the trade relationship between the two countries.


The Mumbai-based publication DNA on Thursday cited “knowledgeable sources” saying it would extremely tough for the U.S. group to serve Mr. Singh with a summons, given the tight security that will surround him throughout his U.S. visit.

The publication also said that surely there would be “procedural difficulties” to get past not only Indian security forces but also the U.S. Secret Service.

The 24-page complaint against Mr. Singh cites the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act as justification for a summons. The plaintiffs in the suit are seeking “compensatory and punitive damages for the torture and extra-judicial killings at the hands of Indian security forces.”

Sikhs for Justice alleges that Mr. Singh personally approved and financed “cash rewards” to members of his security team who killed Sikhs in Punjab.

The group also says that during Mr. Singh’s time as prime minister he “actively shielded” members of his political party who murdered Sikhs during riots in October and November 1984.

More than 80 percent of the world’s 27 million Sikhs live in India, although they make up an estimated 2 percent or less of India’s overall population.

Other international bodies, such as Human Rights Watch, have pointed out that some of those responsible for the anti-Sikh violence have yet to be held accountable.