Washington —Seventeen prominent US Congressmen, led by Robert Mrazek, have decided to get the US Congress to hold a full-fledged hearing on the Sikh situation in India if the findings of the judicial inquiry ordered by the government into the Delhi riots are “not found to be accurate and satisfactory.”
Congressman Robert Mrazek, Democrat from New York said at Capitol Hill that “unless Rajiv Gandhi is forthcoming in his pledge to hold a fair inquiry into the Delhi riots then I will personally lead an initiative to hold a hearing on the Hill on the Punjab issue.” Mr. Mrazek said he has the support of 17 other Congressmen who had earlier written a joint letter on March 25 to the Indian ambassador calling for an inquiry into the Delhi riots.
Mr. Mrazek said that “we have received’ no acknowledgement either by phone or by letter to our letter of March 25.”
Most of the influential groups of Congressmen who are demanding the hearing belong to key strategic sub committees. They are Robert Mrazek, Michael Andrews, Bruce Morrison, Thomas Carper, Joseph Addabbo, and Charles Schumer, dames Scheuer, Norman Lent, Gene Chappie, Edolphus Towns, Bill Richardson, Barbara Boxer, Andrew Jacobs, Tony Coelho, Vic Fazio, Robert Matsui, Rovert Torricelli and John Porter. By choosing not to respond to the group, the Indian Embassy has given the impression that it does not attach any significance to the Congress according to Mr. Mrazek.
When asked to comment on why the Congressmen were so angry with India, several well-formed congressional sources said that they feel that the Indian Embassy unwisely wrote off the March 25 letter which was essentially an “expression of concern” and that act has led several of the signatory congressmen to believe that India was hiding something.
The March 25 letter signed by 18 Congressmen had specifically brought to the notice of the Indian Ambassador their ‘‘concerns” on issues as to what extent was the police negligent in preventing the violence that erupted soon after Indira Gandhi’s death. The letter further asked the Ambassador of India whether there was any validity to the claims made by many Sikhs and by the former external affairs minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee that members of the Congress (I) party might have incited the riots. The Ambassador of India, Mr. K.S. Bajpai according to Mr. Robert Mrazek, did not respond to the letter nor to the various “concerns” expressed in the letter. It is also being widely stated in congressional circles even in quarters sympathetic to India that this move by 18 Congressmen to hold a hearing on the Punjab situation is an indication that India might have lost what has been its traditional strength on the Hill and that is the Democratic Party. Fifteen out of the 18 congressmen, who are advocating action on the Punjab issue, are democrats and most of them are high on the Hill’s seniority list with memberships in various powerful committees.
The Congressmen have also written to house Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs “expressing concern over the safety and welfare of India’s minority Sikh population” and to “encourage the committee to begin hearings to investigate the validity of reported human rights violations which transpired in the days following the slaying of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.” The congressmen also pointed out to the House Subcommittee on Asian Affairs that “the answer to these questions is of the utmost importance.”
What has also surfaced is the widely held belief that the force behind the Congressional pressure was not any one individual but groups of Indians mostly Sikhs scattered all over the US.
It is believed that if the House Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs refuses to conduct such a hearing then the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee will in all certainty conduct the Punjab hearing at the behest of Mr. Mrazek who is an influential member.
Article extracted from this publication >> May 31, 1985