NEW YORK, NY: A hearing will be held on October 31 at the Federal court in Newark N.J. in the extradition case of Sukhminder Singh Sandhu and Ranjit Singh Gill, according to Ms. Mary Pike the defense attorney.

Sandhu and Gill were arrested on May 14, 1987 at a gas station in Matawan N.J. by F.B.I. agents executing an international warrant issued by Government of India. The Indian government accuses these two young and well educated Sikhs of killing various prominent people including the former Indian army chief General Vaidya even though they were not even in India then. Vaidya had lead the Indian army’s bloody assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar in June 1984, in which thousands of innocent pilgrims, including women and children, were killed and the holiest Sikh shrine was damaged by artillery’s and tanks. The Sikh reference library and a museum in the complex were deliberately set on fire in the attack.

The extradition case took an interesting turn when it was found that the prosecutors Ms. Judy Russel had mailed threatening letters to herself and the judge. She was taken off the case and an investigation has been launched.

The defense had requested ‘discovery’ of all the papers involving Judy Russel but their request was denied by the judge. The Judge however ordered certain documents to be made available to him ‘in camera.’ Ms. Pike told the World Sikh News that she had objected to the documents being made available ‘in camera’ and the Judge’s expert decision.

The defense attorneys had also served a set of, interrogatories (questions to be answered under oath) to 12 of the individuals who had submitted affidavits on behalf of Government of India. Two others were excluded by the court.

The purpose of these interrogatories was to determine whether or not the individuals had executed the affidavits’ and whether it had been changed or altered. The hearing on October 31 will also deal with whether or not the evidence before the court shall be reheard or not given the prosecutor’s peculiar role in the case.

Talking to the World Sikh News, Ms. Pike said that the recent Amnesty International special report on Human Rights abuses in India in which the country’s record in the recent years has been severely castigated, the attorney said that the report had immediate relevance to the claims of both Sandhu and Gill’s claims to refugee status.

When asked by W.S.N if her experiences during a visit to India bear out the report Ms. Pike said, “We were not permitted in the Punjab but it seems quite clear that Amnesty International’s concerns for Human Rights violations in India are very well founded precisely because so many shocking situations have been identified despite India not permitting any delegation of International human rights organizations to enter the country since 1978, a full decade ago. Concern for the situation on the part of International organizations is continuing to grow,” Ms. Pike added.

Article extracted from this publication >> September 30, 1988