WASHINGTON: D.C: Speaking in the House of Representatives, the Congressman from Indiana, Hon. Dan Burton said that “torture is going on in Punjab, and the Indian Government is torturing Sikhs, they are murdering Sikhs and there is severe repression of the press, censorship.” He demanded that “until Rajiv stops the repression of their religious rights and their human rights, we should cut off our foreign aid to him and let him know we are not going to give him a dime.” He called upon his colleagues to adopt the resolution which was jointly submitted earlier by Mr. Burton of Indiana (for himself, Mr. Coelho, Mr, Lagomarsino, Mr. Porter, Mr. Fazio, Mr. Lipinski, Mr. Shumway, Mrs. Bentley, Mr. Mavroules, Mr. Dornan of California, Mrs. Shays, Mr. Herger and Mr. Badham) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.


Concerning human rights of the Sikhs in the Punjab of India. Whereas Amnesty International found in its 1987 report that India has failed to adequately protect the human rights of the Sikhs living in the Punjab; Whereas there is evidence that the Indian authorities are currently suspending basic freedoms in the Punjab and that increasingly harsh police tactics are only aggravating the situation; Whereas due to the breakdown of law and order in the Punjab, India’s central government has dismissed the elected state government and has introduced large numbers of police and paramilitary units; Whereas these paramilitary units temporarily sealed off the Golden Temple, the most sacred religious shrine of the Sikh people and for the first time in centuries, devotees could not offer prayers or bathe in the historic holy tank built around the Golden Temple; and Whereas, historically, Sikhs have been a peaceful people, and most Sikhs still want a peaceful solution in the Punjab; now, therefore be it,

Resolved by the House of Representatives (The Senate concurring), that it is the sense of the Congress that—

(1) The Government of India should continue to allow Sikhs to have full access to the Golden Temple for the purpose of religious worship and should remove all military presence from the shrine as soon as possible;

(2) While the Congress condemns the use of “terrorism” tactics in the region, the Government of India should use restraint in resolving its dispute with the Sikh people in the Punjab; and

(3) the Congress supports the territorial integrity of India and respectfully urges Prime Minister Gandhi, and all responsible leaders of the Sikh community, to renew their efforts to achieve a political solution that will permit the settlement of accumulated grievances, the restoration of law and order, and the return to home rule in the Punjab, while guaranteeing religous freedom and respect for the human rights of all the people of India.

Given below is the full text of his Speech in the House:

Mr. Burton of Indiana, Mr. Speaker I will not take my entire 60 minutes, but I will take just a few minutes tonight to talk about an issue that I think is very important halfway around the world. For the past couple of years I have been very concerned about what has been going on in a place called the Punjab which is in the northwestern part of India and adjoins Pakistan. In the Punjab there is a group of people who occupy that area, 17 million of them, called the Sikhs, and the Sikhs are some of the most intelligent, most hardworking people in the entire world. They are very religious people, and these people over the past few years have been persecuted UN mercifully by Rajiv Gandhi’s government in India, and the world seems to turn a deaf ear to their plight. It is a real concern of mine because we believe in human rights in this country, and on both sides of the aisle I have heard speeches made about the human rights violations that have been taking place in the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, in Ethiopia, and elsewhere. But very little has been said about what is going on in the Punjab.

I think it is important that the people of this country know that there is torture going on in the Punjab, and the Indian Government is torturing Sikhs, they are murdering Sikhs, they are raping Sikh women, and there is severe repression of the press, censorship. India is known around the world as one of the largest democracies that we have. The fact of the matter is India is no longer really being run as a democracy. It is being run as a totalitarian government by Rajiv Gandhi. The Gandhi’s have controlled that country for a long time now, and anyone who really knows what is going on knows that he is not running that country in a democratic way. Also Rajiy Gandhi is working as a puppet of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is working in concert with the Gandhi government in producing Soviet weapons. Mig 21 fighter bombers, Mig 23’s, Mig27’s and Mig 29’s. They are also involved in manufacturing helicopters and other war materials in India along with the Indian Government. Eighty percent of the war materials that Indian imports come from the Soviet Union, and they have been doing the bidding of the Soviet Union for some time.

When KAL 007 was shot down, Indian did not condemn the Soviet Union for doing that, even though an American Congressman was on board along with 260 some other human beings.

In addition to that, when the invasion of Afghanistan took place, many countries in the world

Who love freedom spoke out against the invasion. India did not.

India has received over $1 billion in the past 5 or 6 years from the United States in foreign aid, and just last year we appropriated another $600 million for them. They took that $600 million and tuned right around and gave $10.4. Millions of it to the Communist Nicaraguan Government that we have been opposing in Central America.

So they are a puppet of the Soviet Union, They are closely tied to Cuba, Nicaragua, as well as other repressed governments.

But the thing I wanted to talk about tonight was the repression of the Sikhs that has been taking place and the censorship that has been taking place in Punjab. We have talked about that for about 2 years now, and no one has been paying attention. But in the Christian Science Monitor this past Wednesday there was a newspaper article that I wish every one of my colleagues would take time to read and it has to do with the censorship not just in Punjab but the censorship that is spreading throughout all of India.

I would like to read just briefly from that newspaper article. It says. Date line New Delhi, September 7, 1988. New Delhi—Thousands of journalists across India went on strike yesterday to protest a proposed new defamation law they say aims to curtail freedom of the press.

The proposed Defamation Act expands the concept of defamation and negates the presumption that journalists or others making disclosures, are innocent. The lower house of Parliament approved the Defamation Act August 30.

The upper house was supposed to take up the bill Monday, but Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi delayed consideration and appointed a committee of Cabinet Ministers to discuss the matter with journalists.

We need to know What Rajiv Gandhi is all about. He is in league with the Soviet Union. It is not the independent, nonaligned nation as they say they are. They are closely tied to the Soviet bloc and have been doing the bidding of the Soviet bloc.

Regarding the Punjab, there are just a few things I would like to talk about that are extremely important in addition to the censorship.

Over the past few years, India has enacted a series of Draconian laws which strengthen the powers of the state at the expense of the rights of the people.

The Terrorist Affected Areas Act commonly called the TADA can implicate any innocent citizen on charges of “terrorism.” The law defines the term “terrorist” as any person who indulges in “violence or the killing of persons,”” Under this law if you want to walk, you need the Government’s permission. Because if you are walking down a certain road or taking a stroll along a railroad track, or loitering near a certain building, you may be committing a crime. You can be hauled up by the police and sent to jail for a period of time that can last from 6 months to 3 years. According to the law “No person shall, without permission of the central government enter or be on or in or pass over or loiter in the vicinity of any prohibited place.” What is a prohibited place? Any place the government chooses. If you are unlucky enough to miss the official Gazette notification or fail to memorize the ever growing list of such prohibited places and inadvertently walk into their vicinity, you could be grabbed by the long, arm of this law.

If you are a bystander and happen to be present when a violent incident takes place, you could be accused of being responsible for it. If you think this is absurd, listen to how the law reads: “If a person had been at a place in such areas at a time when firearms or explosives were used at or from that place to attack or resist the members of any armed forces charged with the maintenance of public order, it shall be presumed***that person committed the offence.”

Do not touch any piece of paper if you receive a letter or anyone thrusts a handout into your hands, be careful. Because if the government feels the paper carries information likely to assist terrorists or disruptions and you touch it, the law says you can be jailed for a term varying from 6 months to 7 years. The mere receipt of such information by you is good enough for the government to arrest you.

Beware of speaking and writing, According to the law the government can intercept and interrupt your conversation if you are talking to a friend on the phone, since it might be suspected of facilitating “commission of terrorist acts.” If you are a journalist forget freedom of the press. The traditional privilege of interviewing anyone anywhere and the right to publish his or her view no longer exists in India. Under the law, “No person shall without lawful authority, make, print, publish or distribute any document containing any matter derived from terrorists, disruptionists or their sympathies or associates. Of course, publication of any matter derived from terrorists through interviews or otherwise does not necessarily indicate that the reporter or publisher sympathises with views. But the government thinks the interviewer and the interviewee as criminals.

If you live in the Punjab, the Indian Government has enacted a variety of special laws which remove almost every one of your basic human rights. These measures allow police and paramilitary forces to arrest you, confiscate your property and even kill you. The laws also conveniently deny the citizen any right of recourse to due process of law since actions taken by the police under these laws are immune from court proceedings.

Since the imposition of President’s rule in Punjab, thousands of people have been arrested and accused of terrorism. One has to wonder how many of these actually terrorists are. A recent newspaper headline from India read “12 Terrorists Killed in Punjab, Three Positively Identified.” One must ask oneself, if the police don’t know whom they’ve killed, how do they know they are terrorists? The majority of those Sikhs held as “terrorists” during “Operation Blue star,” Amritsar, in 1984 are innocent pilgrims, old men and women who were just standing in the temple when the government attack came. I might add that over 300 of these innocent bystanders are still being held in Indian prisons.

Under the National Security Act, authorities are not bound to disclose the facts surrounding your arrest if they consider it against the public’s interest to do so. Thus, you may be in complete darkness as to the reasons for your detention. You are not allowed to have a lawyer represent your case. Instead, you can appeal to an advisory board consisting of 3 persons who are qualified to be judges. The advisory board can either revoke your detention or confirm it. Your trial will be held in camera and the identity of the witnesses will be kept secret. Your confession to a police officer can now be admissible to the courts. The meaning of this law sends an ominous signal to the innocent. The police are notorious for their various methods of torture which can make someone confess to something he or she didn’t do. So currently in the Punjab you can be convicted on the basis of a confession extorted from you at bayonet point. I might add that this type of court and trial is very similar to the systems imposed on the people of Nicaragua and other Soviet Communist Bloc countries.

Some may say the Punjab is only just a special exception to India’s democratic system. They feel sure people in the Punjab deserve such special laws. They are sure the government will use these laws in a spirit of understanding and generosity, sparing the innocent law abiding citizens. There were optimists like these in the 1930’s. Listen to their plight summed up by a civil liberties activist at the time…“the Nazis came first for the Communists and I didn’t speak up because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn’t speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and by that time there was no one left to speak for any one.” So, if you choose, you can go through the same process of elimination. Somewhere along the line you may find a niche for your personal survival. But at what cost? Are you sure one midnight the security men will not come and knock on your door?

‘That is what the people in the Punjab are facing right now. Innocent men, women and children are being put in jail without due process; people are being killed and the repression goes on and on and nobody is paying much attention.

Recently Amnesty International did point out that these atrocities are taking place. I applaud them for that. But much more attention needs to be drawn to the horrible nightmare that those people are having to endure over there. We need to put pressure on the government of India to bring about change. The United States can do something about it, we have given over $1 billion, as I said earlier, in foreign aid to Rajiy Gandhi. We just recently last year, committed another $600 million to him over the next 3 years. Until he observes human rights, until he stops this repression of the people in the Punjab, the Sikhs, until he stops the repression of their religious rights and their human rights, we. Should cut off our foreign aid to him and let him know we are not going to give him one dime. He is getting all of this military assistance and advice from the Soviet Union; let them take care of the economic problems in India until he starts living up to the human rights commitments which democracies have made in the past.

Mr Speaker, I hope that my colleagues who are listening to this special order will join with me in sponsoring or cosponsoring House

Concurrent Resolution 343 which asks the Government of India to observe the human rights of people in the Punjab. That is all we are asking, just a guarantee of the people as to their human rights which other people in democracies around the world enjoy.

I hope my colleagues will see fit to cosponsor this resolution. It passed in the form’ of an amendment to the foreign aid bill earlier this year but we are concerned that the bill in the waning days of the session may die. So I would like for them to cosponsor this resolution which does the same thing.

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