LONDON, England: “In the name of curbing terrorism unabashed state terrorism has been unleashed on the Sikhs branding them as criminals: arbitrary arrests and McCarthy syle witch hunt, sadistic torture of orthodox Sikhs ‘and coldblooded shooting down of young men in false police encounters are common occurrences”. (From: Oppression in Punjab, a summary of an investigation by India’s foremost civil liberties organization Citizens for Democracy (CFD) chaired by the distinguished retired Supreme Court Justice V.M. Tarkunde).

A report issued by Amnesty International (AI) on December 1, 1986 entitled: Sikh Detainees from the Punjab held since June, 1984 — Background to their arrest and detention has verified many of the findings of Citizens for Democracy. These reports constitute the only means through which the world public can obtain the true picture of human rights violations of Sikhs in India, due to the following:

* The Punjab has been effectively sealed off since June, 1984, the date of the invasion of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. International news media has been denied free “access; foreign agencies seeking to investigate human rights violations and jail conditions like the British Parliamentary Human Rights Group, Amnesty International and the International Red Cross are also being turned away. Even Sikh foreign nationals who wish to visit aging parents or attend funerals are being denied visas for Punjab.

* The Indian government has launched a disinformation campaign which presents a distorted picture of the situation in Punjab: incidents of routine violence are* highlighted, but state terrorism unleashed by the military, police and legal apparatus against mostly innocent Sikh villagers are suppressed or even when they are reported by the Indian press they do not reach international news media. Both the AI and CFD reports indicate that the provisions of the National Security Act have been violated and amended through special antiterrorist laws which act to give enormous powers to the police, army and judiciary. Many instances of human rights violations of Sikhs are cited as case histories and the plight of nearly 400 mostly innocent Sikhs detained in the aftermath of the Golden Temple invasion at Jodhpur are highlighted. The AI report focuses on these cases since they represent a gross violation of the National Security Act according to which detention longer than two years without trial is illegal. According to both reports thousands are still languishing in jails under inhuman conditions. Those apprehended on the charge of “antinational” activities are considered guilty until they themselves prove their innocence. Trials are held “in camera”; the possibility of rearrests is immanent particularly considering that it is sufficient to have been in the vicinity of the crime committed to be arrested and in this way prison sentences can be indefinitely extended.

Sikh Human Rights Internet (SHRI: appeals to all justice loving citizens to consider the violation of human rights in India equal to those perpetrated in South Africa, Nicaragua, USSR, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka; express opposition to a treaty proposed which would entail the extradition of alleged terrorists to India without recourse to normal legal safeguards; encourage your government to withhold aid to India until it agrees to observe the UN Declaration on Human Rights in practice, to which India itself is signatory!

Iqbal Singh

National Director

 Angela Dietrich

General Secretary

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 27, 1987