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Sikhs protest against Kamal Nath's presence in New York

April 08, 2010 23:57 IST

Hundreds of Sikhs gathered in New York on Thursday to protest Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath's presence in the city and to highlight a case filed against him in a New York court for his alleged role in 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

"We are here to inform the American public about the facts that many criminals including Minister Kamal Nath who participated in India's 1984 genocide of the Sikh community have never been brought to justice," said G S Pannun, one of the main organisers.

Outside the McGraw Hill building in Manhattan, protesters shouted slogans and stood holding placard that read

'Stand for Justice' while Kamal Nath attended a construction conference inside the building.

The Sikhs also protested Kamal Nath's very presence in New York likening him to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has been barred from entering the US and calling for similar treatment.

"Our demand is falling on deaf ears," Pannun said.

The protest was organised by the group called Sikhs for Justice based both in India and the United States.

"The mission of Sikhs for Justice is to bring all those responsible for the 1984 genocide of the Sikh population in India to justice," Pannun said.

"We also want the public to know that a lawsuit for the violation of human rights have been filed against Kamal Nath," he said, noting that this was the first time a case had been filed against an Indian in the US courts for human rights violations.

Summons have been issued for Kamal Nath who needs to respond within 21 days otherwise the court will give a default judgement on the matter. The minister has been taken by surprise by the unraveling of events in New York where he came for a business trip.

"I really have no clue about it. I don't have a basis and I don't know the authenticity. I don't know the validity. It was for the first time that I saw it," Kamal Nath said.

"A piece of paper was given to me. I will have to see what the piece of paper is all about."

At the same time, Kamal Nath asserted his innocence.

"Nobody has ever charged me in India. But if the United States charges me 25 years later for something that has happened in India... well it just reflects on the authenticity," he said. "So I'm surprised and appalled."

The complaint, made available by the court, states, "The Defendant was seen and heard by many on the scene of Gurudwara Rakab Ganj. In this particular incident defendant was leading and in control of a mob of about four thousand people."

In 2005, the Nanavati Commission on the Sikh massacre described the minister's testimony as "vague" but concluded that there was no evidence that he had incited a mob.
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