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US court summons Congress over 1984 anti-Sikh riots

March 02, 2011 19:10 IST

A United States court has issued summons to the Congress in connection with the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, acting on a Sikh rights group's petition charging the party with 'conspiring, aiding and abetting' organised attacks on the community.

A federal district court in New York issued summons to India's ruling party in a class action lawsuit filed by the Sikh organisation 'Sikhs for Justice' which has offices in New York and India.

The Sikh group has charged the Congress with "conspiring, aiding, abetting and carrying out organised attacks on the Sikh population of India in November 1984". The proceedings are still at the pre-trial stage in New York. Senior Congress leader and Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath is a defendant in the lawsuit.

The complaint against Nath stated, "The defendant was seen and heard by many on the scene of Gurudwara Rakab Ganj (in New Delhi). In this particular incident, the defendant was leading and in control of a mob of about four thousand people."

Nath has repeatedly denied any involvement and has been cleared by the Nanavati Commission, which had described the minister's testimony as 'vague' but concluded that there was no evidence that he had incited a mob.

A statement issued by 'Sikhs for Justice' said that the killings could not be described as riots. They were not confined to Delhi alone but were allegedly led by Congress leaders in 18 states and 100 cities, claimed the group

"The gravity, scale and specially the organised nature of these attacks was concealed by the Indian government, which portrayed them as 'November 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots of Delhi,'" said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to Sikhs for Justice.

According to the Indian government's record, 3,296 Sikhs were killed while a total of 35,535 claims for deaths and injuries were received throughout India, the group said.

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