A US-based Sikh human rights group has lodged a criminal complaint against megastar Amitabh Bachchan with authorities in Australia for his alleged role in the 1984 Sikh riots in the aftermath of former prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination by her Sikh bodyguards.
The claim has been made by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to Sikhs for Justice, a US-based human rights organisation.
Bachchan is currently in Australia to receive an honorary degree from Queensland University of Technology-Brisbane and for shooting of the Hollywood movie Great Gatsby co-starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
In addition to SFJ, the complaint has been lodged by the National 1984 Victims Justice and Welfare Society and All India Sikh Students Federation on behalf of widows, victims, and survivors of the 1984 genocide.
According to Pannun, the complaint has been lodged with Christopher Craigie SC, director, Commonwealth Public Prosecutions, charging Bachchan with giving murderous calls of "blood for blood" and "blood stains of Indiraji must reach the home of Sikhs", on October 31, 1984. Mrs Gandhi's assassination led to widespread, systematic and organised attacks against the community. The massacre claimed the lives of more than 30,000 Sikhs in four days across India.
The complaint has been lodged under Australia's Criminal Code Act 1995 which provides Australian courts with jurisdiction in cases involving crimes against humanity whether or not the offence was committed in Australia. Bachchan has been charged under the sections covering 'crime against humanity - murder' and 'crime against humanity -- extermination'. Section 15.4 of the law providing for extended jurisdiction states that 'if a law of the Commonwealth provides that the section applies to a particular section, the offence applies regardless of whether or not the conduct constituting the alleged occurs in Australia or not'.
"Under this act, the mere presence of a foreigner in Australia is sufficient basis for jurisdiction over acts of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed abroad, giving it a mode of jurisdiction equivalent to universal jurisdiction," added attorney Pannun.
"The law was made by the country to protect the human rights of each individual and they have a duty to implement it," Pannun told rediff.com.
SFJ will also lobby with the producers of the movie to remove Bachchan from the cast, he said.
When asked about the evidence to prove that Bachchan had indeed made the call, Pannun claimed it was not a new allegation.
"There were witnesses. The reports by People's Union for Civil Liberties and Peoples Union for Democratic Rights too mention the call, (but) without attributing any name," he claimed.
"The Justice Nanavati Commission (set up to probe the anti-Sikh riots) too documented the call," he claimed.
"Only an investigation will bring out the complete truth. It took 16 years for an investigation and most of the evidences were lost by then," he claimed.