US-based Sikh body calls for American Congressional delegation to assess rights situation in Indian Punjab

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NEW YORK, June 23 (APP): Ahead of next week’s meeting between Indian
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump in Washington, a U.S.-based
Sikh rights group has urged American lawmakers to send a delegation to the
“Indian-held” Punjab to assess and report to Congress about the recent spate of human
rights violations of the Sikh community.
In a press release, the Sikhs for Justice (SfJ) said that its delegation
met with Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives on June 20 and
21 on Capitol Hill and discussed the issues of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution which
strips Sikhs of their separate religious identity by labeling them as Hindus and by denying
the group the basic right to self-determination.
They also brought to light incidents in which members of Sikh community
have endured violence perpetrated by the Modi regime.
“On one hand, the recent events raise a serious question on the
religious and political freedoms available to the Sikh community in Modi’s India, despite
hollow claims of “secularism” and “freedom of religion”, a memorandum submitted to
the lawmakers said.
“While on the other hand, the treatment of Sikhs by the Indian state,
heightened and increased under Modi, necessarily follows the pattern through which the
Indian government has dealt with Sikhs in the past when the Armed Forces of India and
other security agencies carried out so-called ‘counter insurgency operations’ in Punjab to
crush the Sikhs’ rights movement during the 80s and 90s.”
“Since religious freedom functions at the core of American values, we have
asked the members of the Congress to stand against the persecution of Sikhs under
Modi regime,” Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ, said in a statement.
“Sikhs in India are targeted for campaigning to restore their separate religious
identity and their inalienable rights to self-determination.”
With the support of Sikh Gurudawara Committees from across America, the
press release said, the Sikhs For Justice would stage a Punjab Independence Rally
coinciding with the Modi-Trump summit, on Monday, June 26, in front of White House.