NEW YORK - A petition submitted to the White House by a US-based Sikh rights organization urges President Barack Obama to raise the issue of separate status for Sikhs with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to India next month.
Obama is scheduled to attend India’s Republic Day event as the chief guest on January 26, at Modi’s invitation. A press release issued by Sikhs for Justice (SfJ) claimed that the petition, ‘Sikhs are not Hindus’, now has over 100,000 signatures and thus qualifies for a response by the Obama administration. ON Dec 1, the SfJ launched the ‘We the people White House Petition’ urging President Obama to question the Indian leader as to ‘Why Indian Constitution labels ‘Sikhs’ as ‘Hindus’, and raise the issues of the 1984 ‘Sikh Genocide’ and Sikh’s ‘right to Self-Determination.’
This week marks the 30th anniversary of the November 1984 anti-Sikh massacres in India.
At least 3,000 Sikhs were killed throughout India in the span of just three days. Although various government commissions found that some police and Congress Party officials instigated or were complicit in attacks, the primary architects of this violence have escaped justice.
We are writing to urge the Obama administration to call on India’s new government to bring justice to the victims of the 1984 massacres by prosecuting those responsible.
Given the important role that India is poised to play, and is increasingly seeking, in setting international policy - potentially as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council - we urge you to address impunity for the 1984 premeditated violence in your engagement with India. Only 30 people have been convicted for these crimes, with police and prosecutorial authorities failing to bring government and party officials allegedly involved to justice.
Eyewitnesses, journalists, and human rights professionals have compiled information showing that the scale of the violence was matched by its planning, precision, and brutality. Assailants used electoral records to identify Sikh homes, businesses, and places of worship for looting and arson attacks. Sikh men were beaten with iron rods and doused in kerosene before being burned alive. The attackers placed tires on the necks of some of their victims before setting them on fire. Gangs raped and sexually assaulted Sikh women, in some cases in front of their children. Sikh Gurdwaras (Houses of Worship) were targeted in arson attacks and Sikh articles of worship desecrated.