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30th anniversary of November 1984 Sikh Genocide: the time for international action: Peermohammad writes to Modi

November 5, 2014 | By

New Delhi, India: All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) president Karnail Singh Peermohammad has written a letter to the Indian Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi on 30th anniversary of the Sikh Genocide of November 1984. A copy of letter is sent to the Sikh Siyasat News by AISSF media adviser Gurpiar Singh.

Following text is verbatim reproduction of letter by AISSF president Karnail Singh Peermohammad to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi:

Shri Narendra Modi,
Honourable Prime Minister of India
South Block, Raisina Hill
New Delhi 110011

5th November 2014

Dear Prime Minister,

30th anniversary of November 1984 Sikh Genocide: the time for international action

The shocking events of November 1984, in which thousands of Sikhs were brutally murdered by state organised mobs in Delhi and elsewhere in India, constituted an act of genocide which has forever disgraced India in the annuls of history.

Only a handful of the culprits have been brought to the courts as the very authorities, whose duty it was to protect the victims, have frustrated the punishment of those that principally planned, directed and carried out the genocide. The thirty years of conspiracy, at the highest level, to provide impunity for the guilty has further shamed your predecessors; that policy now threatens to taint your premiership in the same way. This need not be the case; in this open letter I am making proposals that, if adopted, can bring about some sense of justice and – to the extent possible – right an historic wrong. It is an opportunity that I hope you will grasp with the statesmanlike wisdom that high office demands.

It is not necessary I hope to remind you of the details as to the scale and utter depravity of the murder, rape, destruction and inhumanity of those three days in November 1984. Your own well publicised comments of a few days ago described the events as a dagger through India’s chest and one must therefore assume you are fully aware of the horrific facts, which renowned domestic and international human rights organisations have substantively documented for the whole world to see. In the last few days Human Rights Watch described the events as “organised carnage”, which confirms the genocidal character of the crimes. The crime of genocide is defined as killing or seriously harming a target group, with the intent to destroy it in whole or in part.

The object of this letter is to address the urgent need for immediate action to help punish the guilty. The case for action is irrefutable and, by virtue of your office, you are the very person who has the foremost duty to respond.

You have a duty, as the leader of your country, to respond when Amnesty International publicly stated this week that:

“The sheer scale of the impunity for the 1984 massacre is staggering, and has also been used to downplay other incidents of mass violence. As long as the perpetrators of the carnage go unpunished, the rule of law in India remains weakened.”

You have a duty to act when under the 1948 Genocide Convention, to which India is a party, the country you represent has undertaken to punish genocide perpetrators. That is an ongoing legal obligation which international law requires you to comply with.

You, as a human being, have a duty to act when just days ago in Punjab, insult was added to injury as survivors, relatives of the victims and witnesses of the massacres were arrested by the police, simply in order to prevent them peacefully protesting against the 30 years of impunity your country has guaranteed to the guilty. Many of those arrested were elderly widows and children of the genocide affected families; the entire world is asking why these innocents can be so easily arrested whilst those, who have been identified by witness testimony of involvement in the pogroms, enjoy liberty and immunity in your country. You will recall that it was the same Indian police that watched as silent spectators whilst the mobs massacred Sikhs in November 1984; indeed the same ‘law enforcement’ agencies then actively hid the evidence and prevented criminal cases being lodged.

It is not pitiful financial compensation for the victims, but justice that they demand. The entire Sikh nation, as well as the wider global community, stands with them. There is little doubt that India has completely failed in delivering justice; equally there little doubt that India lacks, as further shown by this week’s arrests, the political will to discharge its legal obligation to punish the guilty. The Sikhs have no confidence in a legal system that has, for three decades, so callously ignored the gravest crimes against them whilst seeming to function so ‘efficiently’ when handing out death sentences to Sikhs who resisted India’s aggression during the 1980s and 1990s. In one of the few cases (State v Ram Pal Saroj) that did make it to the courts, Judge S.N. Dhingra felt moved to describe the outrageous failure of that legal system in relation to the Sikh genocide as follows:

“The manner in which the trial of the riot cases had proceeded is unthinkable in any civilised country. In fact, the inordinate delay in trial of the rioters had legitimised the violence and the criminality. A system which permits the legitimised violence and criminals through the instrumentalities of the state to stifle the investigation, cannot be relied upon to dispense basic justice uniformly to the people. It amounts to a total wiping out of the rule of law.”
It is now time for India to allow international institutions to take up the responsibility of legal action, in an impartial manner, so that the genocide perpetrators can finally be held to account. As you will know, the Sikhs have (with the authority of an edict from Sri Akal Takht Sahib, the highest temporal seat of the Sikh nation) already approached the United Nations to take up the matter. The UN will be able to act more easily and with the urgency required if you, as the Indian Prime Minister, formally agree to UN action. Only an international investigation and an international criminal tribunal will now have the credibility to deliver justice. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done when we are dealing with the gravity of the situation before us. The ongoing trials, set up by the UN, of those accused of genocide in the former Yugoslavia and Ruanda demonstrate how this can be achieved.

By agreeing to such international action and by making available to the UN all necessary assistance in carrying out a robust, neutral investigation and trial process, you will go some way to redressing the balance in favour of the tens of thousands of entirely innocent victims.
It is also morally incumbent on you to officially acknowledge the events of November 1984 as genocide. For too long the Indian establishment has disgracefully sought to down play what happened as “anti-Sikh riots”. This recognition will demonstrate that India takes seriously the reality of what occurred and will give impetus to the legal action against the guilty that will inevitably follow. In any event, I am sure you will agree that there is no honour in being a genocide denier – many civilised states have made that a crime in itself.

I have addressed in this letter the single issue of the November 1984 genocide as Sikhs, along with their friends in the Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities mark this week the harrowing events of thirty years ago. There are of course many other issues which the Sikh nation and the Indian state must resolve in order to bring enduring peace and harmony to Punjab. From the Sikh right to self-determination, the riparian rights to Punjab’s precious river waters, the release of Sikh political prisoners, the punishment of those that carried out massive human rights violations in Punjab from 1984 to 1995 – these will all need mature and peaceful resolution in accordance with international law. It is hoped that you will begin the process of conflict resolution by accepting the proposals I have outlined in relation to the November 1984 crime against humanity.

As a new Prime Minister of India, you have an opportunity to finally grasp the nettle of this terrible, longstanding injustice. The killers are in our midst; many of the key witnesses have already passed away and the surviving victims now simply ask that you hand over the task of delivering justice to the international community. In all the circumstances, this is a reasonable and proportionate request which all right thinking people will endorse. You promised ‘ache din’ when you came to power; for the unfortunate victims of this terrible chapter in India’s history the acceptance of these proposals will demonstrate your sincerity.

Yours sincerely,

Karnail Singh Peermohammad
President, All India Sikh Students Federation

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