Sikh group gets US court summons for Manmohan Singh

A Sikh rights group summons from a US court against Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ahead of his arrival in Washington.

A Sikh rights group has managed to get yet another summons from a US court – this time against Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ahead of his arrival in Washington on Thursday for a summit meeting with US President Barack Obama.

The New York-based Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which had secured similar summons for Congress president Sonia Gandhi earlier this month, got the summons against Manmohan Singh in connection with the counter-insurgency operations in Punjab in the 1990s.

Acknowledging that it would be an “uphill task” to serve the summons on the prime minister during his stay here, SFJ plans to ask the Washington Federal Court for leave “to effect alternative means of service” through White House staff and Manmohan Singh’s security detail, according to the group’s attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

In America, where one can sue anyone at the drop of a hat, it’s easy to get such summons by simply paying a $350 filing fee without the court going into the merits of a case, sources said dismissing the case as a “publicity gimmick”.

The 24-page SFJ complaint alleges that Manmohan Singh, as the finance minister in early 1990s, approved and financed the practice of “cash rewards” to members of security forces for allegedly killing Sikhs through extra-judicial means to curb militancy.

The complaint also alleges that during his tenure as the prime minister beginning 2004, Manmohan Singh actively shielded and protected members of his Congress party allegedly involved in 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

The SFJ also plans to hold a “Justice Rally” on Friday in front of the White House during the Obama-Singh meeting.

Justifying the filing of rights violation lawsuit against Manmohan Singh, Pannun said the prime minister “should be held accountable before the world community for funding the crimes against humanity and protecting security force personnel involved in extra-judicial killings of Sikhs in the state of Punjab”.


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