Madison, Wisconsin—Yesterday, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin issued Summons against the visiting Chief Minister of the State of Punjab, Parkash Badal, on the charges of police custodial torture and shielding Police officers such as DGP Sumedh Saini and others who are responsible for extra judicial killings and continuous human rights violations against the Sikh community in Punjab.
The lawsuit against visiting Indian Minister Badal was filed by Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), a human rights advocacy group, Shiromani Akali Dal SAD (Amritsar), an opposition political party in Punjab, and individual victims of police torture. It has been docketed (12-C-0806) with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
The August 8th US Court summons against the Chief Minister of the State of Punjab, Parkash Badal, gives him twenty one (21) days to answer the charges of torture, the practice of impunity to the police officers responsible for extrajudicial killings, and the continuous human rights violations against Sikhs in the State of Punjab in India.
The lawsuit against Minister Badal seeks a jury trial and certification of ‘Class” consisting of any and all individuals who have ever been tortured during the Badal regime.
Parkash Badal has been head of the Government in the Indian State of Punjab for more than twelve years from 1997 until 2002 and from 2007 until the present. During Badal’s tenure there have been several hundred cases of extrajudicial killings, police tortures and human rights violations.
Not even a single police officer in charge and responsible for the extra judicial killings has been investigated or prosecuted by the Badal administration.
Citing the recent extrajudicial killings of Jaspal Singh in 2012, Sohan Singh in 2011, Shaminder Singh in 2011 and Darshan Singh in 2009, attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ stated that “Minister Badal is not only protecting the past acts of police torture and extrajudicial killings committed between 1984 to 1997 but also continuing with blatant human rights violations and acts of torture by the police and other security forces under his command.”
“Despite of overwhelming evidence available against Sumedh Saini for his role in torture and extrajudicial killings of Sikhs in the State of Punjab including the father and Uncle of Prof. Bhullar, Badal Government has promoted Saini to become DGP of Punjab instead of prosecuting him for his crimes,” he continued.
The complaint alleges that “The plaintiffs themselves or their legal representatives have suffered torture, cruel and inhuman treatment while residing in Indian State of Punjab, in the hands of Police and other law enforcement agencies that work under the orders and under the command and control of the defendant Parkash Badal (hereinafter “Badal”) who was and has been the Chief Minister of the State of Punjab during the periods from 1997 till 2002 and from 2007 till 2012.”
The lawsuit against the Chief Minister of the State of Punjab has been filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and The Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) based on the facts that the defendant may have authorized, commanded, or directed the unlawful acts of the security forces and Punjab Police operating under his command and authority. The Badal administration knew or should have known that the security forces, and particularly the Police of the State of Punjab, of which he is and was head of the Executive during his tenure, committed acts of torture, abuse and inhuman and cruel treatment against the named and unnamed individual Defendants.
Jeet Singh, General Secretary of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), one of the plaintiffs, alleges that due to his political activities from the platform of SAD-Mann, he was illegally detained, physically and mentally tortured, and abused by the police and security forces operating under the orders of—and under the command and control of—CM Badal in 2008 and 2009.
The lawsuit states that Plaintiff SAD (Amritsar) is a political party in India, headed by Simranjit Singh Mann and is struggling to achieve an Independent state of Khalistan through peaceful and democratic means. The Plaintiff SAD-Mann moved the US Court on behalf of SAD-Mann members, officers and supporters who have been extra judicially killed, illegally detained, tortured and abused during the relevant times by the security forces in Punjab operating under the orders, command, and control of defendant Parkash Badal.
Attorney Pannun stated that seeking relief under the ATCA and TVPA is motivated by an interest in seeking some form of justice for hundreds of victims who were killed extra judicially and have suffered torture during the tenure of Badal as CM of the State of Punjab, India. “The lawsuit will raise awareness to the international community regarding the torture and extrajudicial killings of Sikhs in the state of Punjab, India by the security forces and will send a strong message to political leaders that they will not be able to visit United States without being answerable to the International laws and the Courts for their role in gross human rights violations,” added Pannun.
Another class action lawsuit—SFJ v. Congress (I) SDNY (10 CV 2940)— filed by “Sikhs For Justice” and victims of Sikh Genocide under ATCA and TVPA is already pending with the Southern District of New York against Minister Kamal Nath and Congress (I) the ruling political party of India for conspiring, aiding, abetting and carrying out Genocidal attacks on the Sikh population of India in which more than thirty thousand Sikhs were killed during November 1984.