November 2, 2013
Voices for Freedom raises its concerns on the prevalent plight of the Indian Sikhs:
Efforts to give voice to the deprive segment continues
Voices for Freedom, participating in the 2013 Sikh Summit, from Oct 22nd to 24th, raised its concerns on many of the human rights issues being faced by the Sikh community in India.
The aim and objective of the summit was to high-light the issues and problems of the Sikh Diaspora and the community in home land.
Many of the Sikh rights activists and around 22 Congress representatives along with 6 US Departments, including US State Dept, Justice Dept and USCIRF participated in the Summit.
Speaking to different Congressmen, Jaspreet Kaur, Legal Fellow, Voices for Freedom (VFF) discussed a number of issues confronted by the Sikhs in India such as:
- India’s continuous failure to ratify Convention against Torture that paves the way for the extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and inhuman and degrading treatment during the investigations.
- Denial of justice to those who fall prey to November 1984 pogroms and impunity to those who perpetrated the violence.
- Recent Human Rights violations in the country and the plight of thousands of innocent Sikhs languishing in Punjab jails.
- Discrimination, sometimes faced by the Sikhs in US.
- The need to work collectively to bring an end to this discrimination.
After the summit, commenting on it, Jaspreet stated: “such summits and sessions provide the minorities a healthy opportunity to come up with their issues in a dialog.” “We, the inhabitants of India feel that the biggest democracy must straighten the record by bringing all those who perpetrated violence on any segment as justice for all is the first and far most important norm of democracy”, added Jaspreet.
In a meeting with the US State Dept, VFF presented a memo under the title Sikh Civil and Human Rights violation in India.
The memo highlighted the recent arbitrary arrests and detentions by the Punjab Police in the State of Punjab.
Referring to the USCIRF’s 2012 report the memo pin-pointed that religious discrimination can easily be seen in India and Muslims, Sikhs and Christians are specially falling prey to this discrimination.
The memo also brought to light the plight of the Sikh’s farmer of Gujarat whose ownership rights on their lands have been challenged by the state government by invoking Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1958. Moreover the deprivation of the Sikh’s of Rajasthan, Himachal and Jammu & Kashmir was also focused who cannot purchase land or homes due to the discriminatory State laws.
The long awaited denial of justice to the perpetrators of November, 1984 pogroms and the victims was also highlighted aspect of the memo.
Thus presenting its point of view, VFF made it clear to the US government that not only in the State of Panjab but in the whole country Sikh’s are facing discrimination and urged the US congressmen and the State department to persuade the Indian government to abolish all those blots which are bringing bad name to internationally accepted human and democratic norms.
Voices for Freedom