NHRC calls for report on blacklisted Sikh NRIs

NEW DELHI MAY 22. The National Human Right Commission today issued notice to the Union Home Secretary asking for a report on Sikh NRIs who had been blacklisted and denied visas "even on humanitarian grounds.'' The Commission was acting on information from the national Commission for Minorities that a number of Sikh NRIs had been blacklisted by the Ministry of Home Affairs "for shouting slogans outside Indian Embassies in 1984 during the Golden Temple episode.''

The NHRC has asked the Home Secretary to report, in two weeks, on the total number of Sikh NRIs who were blacklisted by the Ministry for the reason cited by the National Commission for Minorities, the date when the list was last revised and the possibility of its expeditious revision.

Directive to Gujarat DGP

The Commission directed the Gujarat Director-General of Police to report to it on measures it had taken to protect last year's violence victims and witnesses who had to depose either in court or before the Government-appointed Commission of Enquiry. In its directive, it asked "whether any measures have been taken to protect the safety, physical and psychological well-being, dignity and privacy of victims and witnesses'' and if measures had been taken then the nature of that protection which would "enable them to depose freely and fearlessly.''

The directive comes in a week when survivors of the Best Bakery attack in Vadodara, who were the primary witnesses in the case, turned `hostile' and Justice Nanavati, who heads the Commission of Enquiry told the media that he had so far not received any evidence implicating political leaders, Government officials, members of the VHP or the Bajrang Dal in last year's violence in which over 2,000 Muslims were killed.

The Commission said today that the right to fair trial was a constitutional imperative. The fairness of a trial necessarily includes "proper protection of the rights of the accused as also the capacity of witnesses to come forth and make true and faithful statements in respect of matters within their knowledge without any fear or favour.'' Stating that the directive comes in the light of its recommendations made in April and May last year, and because "critically important issues'' are involved, the NHRC asked DGP to submit his report in two weeks.

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