WASHINGTON,: D.C: In a joint letter addressed to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Hon. Vernon Walter, seventeen U.S. Congressmen made a fervent appeal to him to Raise the issue of Sikh human nights that are being ruthlessly violated by the Indian government. The move was initiated by Hon. Norman D. Shumway, Congressman from Stockton, California, who had earlier on a special order arranged a discussion in the House of Representatives over the Sikh problem In India.

It may be recalled that Hon. Shumway was not permitted to go to Punjab by the Indian government during his visit to that country. He, however, was able to gather a fairly accurate picture of the Sikh plight and Indian government’s reign of terror let loose against them. His Sikh constituents in Stockton had also furnished him documents and investigative reports on the situation there. Similarly Sikh constituents had brought the facts to the notice of their respective congressmen. Dr. Gurmeet Singh Aulakh, President International Sikh Organization, also assisted Hon. Shumway in coordinating with other concerned Congressmen.

Full text of the letter is produced below:

Dear Ambassador Walter: As you are no doubt aware of religious and ethnic violence in India that has claimed the lives of thousands of innocent persons since the invasion of the Golden Temple and the assassination of Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi in 1984.

We recognize that the Indian government faces acute difficulties in dealing with the atrocities and attacks which have been attributed to Sikh extremists by the media. At the same time, the Indian government and the authorities in Punjab state must remain accountable for their actions and have an obligation to adhere to Indian law and internationally accepted human rights norms in carrying out government policies. From a practical point of view, abuses of rights of innocent Sikhs are more likely to promote further dissidents than to control it.

We are concerned about the reported failure of the Indian government to provide adequate protection to the Sikhs in Punjab from the abuses perpetrated by the local authorities, the police and paramilitary forces. A report prepared by a joint enquiry into the riots which followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi provides some evidence of this failure on the part of the Indian government.

We are specifically concerned about persistent reports alleging the continuing disregard and systematic abuse of the most fundamental rights by the government of India, including:

  1. Detention of thousands of per sons in connection with political activities in Punjab:
  2. Arbitrary arrests and prolonged imprisonment without trial or trial in camera of individuals suspected of aiding secessionist forces:
  3. Routine interrogation by torture and possible instances of summary executions:
  4. Unwarranted forces used in encounters with suspected militants:
  5. The staged killings of alleged “terrorists” and “infiltrators” in districts adjacent to the Indian

Pakistan border and

  1. Imprisonment of Sikh leaders solely on the basis of antigovernment statements or other political acts.

This serious situation is com pounded by the paucity of the independent information coming from the Punjab and the new situation arising out of the suspicion of the elected Punjab government, the re imposition of central rule and the introduction of larger numbers of police and paramilitary units and the arrests of hundreds of persons in new security sweeps.

For these reasons, we respectfully request that you raise the issue of human rights violations in India before the appropriate forum in the U.N. and in fantiation is the next session of the human rights commission. Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated. We look forward to hearing from you.

With regards to this request.


  1. D.Shumway; Dan Burton; Wally Herger; Ronald V. Dellums; Duncan Hunter; David Drier; Jack Fields; Tony Coelho; Walter Lipiniski; Bob Darnin; James H. Quillan; Helen Delich Bentley; David Price; Vic Fazio; Don Young; Robert Torricelli; and Constance Morella.

Article extracted from this publication >>  August 21, 1987