A district court in Wisconsin, U.S., issued summons on Thursday to the visiting Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, and asked him to reply to a suit accusing him of overseeing human rights violations and torture in his State.
The petition was filed by advocacy group Sikhs for Justice, the Amritsar faction of the Shiromani Akali Dal and some individuals, under the provisions of the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA).
The summons gave Mr. Badal 21 days to answer charges of torture and grant of impunity to police officers responsible for extrajudicial killings and human rights violations in Punjab.
“[Chief] Minister Badal is not only protecting the past acts of police torture and extrajudicial killings committed between 1984 and1997, but also continuing with blatant human rights violations and acts of torture by the police and other security forces under his command,” said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor and counsel for the SFJ.
Another suit under the same provisions accusing Union Minister Kamal Nath and the Congress party with the massacre of more than 30,000 Sikhs in November 1984 is pending before a District Court in New York.
Mr. Badal is scheduled to return on Sunday and it is not clear whether he will have to extend his stay. He was scheduled to participate in the wedding of the daughter of an influential NRI, whose brother Surjit Singh Rakhra is Punjab’s Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats.
The Punjab government dismissed the suit as a “cheap and desperate publicity stunt” by thoroughly rejected and marginalised elements owing allegiance to the philosophy of violence, bloodshed and communal hatred preached by Simranjit Singh Mann.