Dear Mr. Ambassador:
We are writing to express our profound concern over the continued safety of India’s minority Sikh population.
We would like to commend Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for his forceful and eloquent statements deploring the recent violence committed against members of the Sikh religion. We particularly applaud his historic decision to establish a government panel to explore peaceful ways of resolving the separatist crisis in the State of Punjab.
At the same time, we remain deeply troubled by reports in the Western media of gross human rights violations committed against the Sikh population in the aftermath of the tragic slaying of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. According to these accounts, as many as 2000 or more people were killed, and an additional 20,000 were left living in refugee camps.
Equally troubling are the many questions that have been prompted by this massacre. These questions have arisen not only in the minds of Sikhs living in India and the United States, but in the news accounts emanating from India and appearing in the Western media. Among these questions are:
1) To what extent were police negligent in preventing the violence, and what was their role, if any, in promoting it?
2) Is there any validity to the claims made by many Sikhs, including former Foreign Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that members of the Congress (I) Party may have incited the riots, and then interfered with subsequent investigations?
3) To what extent has the current government been successful in bringing all these atrocities to justice?
We encourage your government to continue, and to expand the investigations into this unfortunate and tragic episode in Indian history. We encourage Prime Minister Gandhi to establish an independent investigation, comprised of both Hindu and Sikh representatives, so that the world might better understand the causes of, and the actions taken during and after the rioting, as well as the actions taken to ensure that this atrocity can never again be repeated.
We would also like to take this opportunity to recognize the heroic actions taken by many Hindus who, at the risk of their own lives and property, offered sanctuary and medical aid to the Sikhs. It is actions such as these which offer hope in what otherwise appeared to have been a desperate situation.
Signed by over
Article extracted from this publication >> April 5, 1985