By Rakesh Raman
President and Michelle Obama visited India on an economic mission and despite outcries from human rights organizations the President did not address India’s terrible human rights record including India’s genocide on the Sikh community, said Sikhs for Justice, a little-known outfit, in a statement issued Wednesday, Nov. 10.[ Also Read: Nobel Peace Prize for Chinese Human Rights Activist ]
According to Ms. Ganga Kaur, whose father, uncles, and brothers were burnt alive in November 1984, her organization the National 1984 Victims Justice and Welfare Society approached the Obamas prior to and during their visit to India urging them to be the voice for victims, the statement said.
Ms. Kaur stated, “For the widows and survivors there is no difference between the Indian government who has been denying justice to the Sikhs for the past twenty six years and the Obamas who ignored their pleas.”
It may be noted here that the present head (the Prime Minister) of Indian government is Manmohan Singh, who belongs to the Sikh community.[ Also Read: After Mosque, Demand for Ground Zero Church ]
The statement said while the First Couple was dancing at exclusive cultural events in Delhi, several hundred widows took to the streets urging the First Lady (who traditionally performs charitable missions) to visit the “Widow Colony” in Delhi.
The Widow Rally was organized by the National 1984 Victims Justice and Welfare Society, the All India Sikh Students Federation and Sikhs for Justice.
It aimed to draw President Obama’s attention to the plight of the victims and urge him to press the Indian government to bring justice to the victims.[ Also Read: Peepli Dead: True Story of Cyber Zombies in India ]
All India Sikh Students Federation president, Karnail Singh Peermohammad, stated, “President Obama paid tribute to the victims of Mumbai but ignored the gross human rights violations committed against religious minorities in India including human rights violations in Kashmir, the killing of Christians in Orissa, the killing of Muslims in Gujarat and the denial of justice to thousands of Sikhs massacred in November 1984.”
A delegation of victims delivered a memorandum for President Obama to the U.S. Ambassador for India, Timothy J. Roemer, the statement said.[ Also Read: Low Scores for White House on Transparency ]
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the spokesperson and legal advisor for Sikhs for Justice, stated, “The First Couple has utterly disappointed the downtrodden and suppressed people of this world who had pinned their hopes on them. President Obama had a unique opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to human rights by speaking for and standing with the religious minorities of India, however, he chose economic interests over human rights.”
The statement, however, did not elaborate on the Sikhs’ current expectations from the Indian government.
The 1984 anti-Sikh riots were four days of violence in northern India, particularly in Delhi, during which armed mobs killed Sikh men, women, and children, looted their property, and attacked Gurdwaras (religious temples of Sikh community).
The violence began in June 1984, during Operation Blue Star, when the-then Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to attack Sikh separatists in the Golden Temple, a Sikh shrine that was being used as a hideout by terrorists.
Photo courtesy: Sikhs for Justice