WASHINGTON, D.C. The Council of Khalistan which speaks for the Sikh people, is distressed by the finding of a U.S. Magistrate which clears the way for the deportation of a young Sikh to India where he faces almost certain torture and death at the hands of the authorities.
On February 3, 1988, Magistrate Ronald Hedges of Newark, N.J., found that the charges against Sukhminder Singh Sandhu, 26, constituted “probable cause” for him to be sent back to India to stand trial. Mr. Sandhu is being accused by the Indian authorities of taking part in the assassination of the Indian General who planned the 1984 storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Also subject to possible extradition on same charges is Ranjit Singh Gill. Attorney Mary Pike said she would try to block the extradition on the grounds that her clients are political refugees. Prosecutor Judy Russel said that the move would fail because they entered the United States on false passports.
The Council of Khalistan appeals for the extradition proceedings to stop on the following ground:
- Mr. Sandhu and Mr. Gill are indeed political refugees who fled a repressive regime and should be accorded right of people seeking political asylum.
- The argument that they entered the U.S. on false passports is invalid because the Indian government from whose authority they fled would have never provided them with passports in the first place.
- The allegations of the Indian authorities against Mr. Sandhu and Mr. Gill that they participated in assassination have not been proven. The Indian authorities, particularly in Punjab, the home of the Sikhs, having a long and lamentable record of falsely incriminating those whom they perceive as their political opponents.
- Under the presumption of innocence Mr. Sandhu and Mr. Gill should be tried in an American court of law before a decision is made to hand them over to the Indian authorities from whom they face certain retribution, regardless of their innocence or guilt, if recent precedent are followed.
America has a long and honorable history of granting asylum to those who flee to her shore for political reasons. Those who are aware of the current situation in the Punjab, the slaughter of thousands of innocent Sikhs following the attack on their holiest shrine, the Golden Temple at Amritsar, by Indian troops in 1984, and the subsequent repressions, understand the plight of these two young men.
We urge all U.S. responsible government and judicial authorities to reexamine their case and all Americans of goodwill to come to their defense.
Article extracted from this publication >> February 12, 1988