Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in bilateral talks with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday, a U.S. Congressional Committee on Human Rights will be holding a briefing on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Washington.
The timing of the briefing during the high profile visit will be an embarrassment for the government, coming on the heels of a summons issued by a Federal court in New York against Mr. Modi over the 2002 Gujarat riots.
However, the Indian delegation said it wasn’t concerned about the developments. “In both cases we will only accept the decision of the apex court in India. We do not need to concern ourselves with these cases in the U.S. as they are not related to the Indian judicial process, which we have faith in,” BJP spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh told The Hindu in New York.‘30 years of impunity’
The briefing called, “Thirty Years of Impunity: the November 1984 Anti-Sikh Pogroms in India,” will screen a film about the 1984 killings and hear accounts of rights activists, as well as Indian journalist Manoj Mitta, who is the author of a book on the subject, When a Tree Shook Delhi: The 1984 Carnage and Its Aftermath . Speaking to The Hindu , Mr. Mitta dismissed speculation that the Commission’s hearing was timed with Mr. Modi’s visit to Washington, saying he had been contacted by the Human Rights Congressional body “several months” ago, before the visit had been scheduled.
“The hearing on 1984 riots is not about the BJP or PM Modi; it is an indictment of the criminal justice system, and the cavalier attitude of the Indian government towards the biggest massacre modern India has seen, where 3,000 died in the capital alone. If we can talk about globalising the economy, why not about globalising human rights,” he said.
The hearing itself, by the Congressional Commission named in honour of a former Congressman Tom Lantos, a Nazi camp survivor, does not have any executive powers, but is an influential bipartisan body with the largest membership.