The Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a US-based human rights advocacy group, on Monday announced a reward of $10,000 (Rs 6.5 lakh) to anyone who serves Canadian court summons to Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh in a defamation law suit filed by the group in April last year when he had accused the group of playing into the hands of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
“His allegations were in retaliation to the successful campaign to block him from addressing political rallies in Canada and also an effort to hold him accountable for human rights violations during his 2002-2007 tenure as the Punjab CM,” said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a legal advisor to the SFJ.
The petition filed with an Ontario’s court against Amarinder, states: “By reason of the publication of the defamatory statements, the SFJ has been injured in its reputation. The defamatory statements have caused reputational damage to the SFJ’s status as a non-profit organisation and among other things, have hindered its ability to address ongoing issued of significance to Sikh Canadians”.
Terming Amarinder’s statement callous, Pannun, said: “Capt Amarinder (Singh) made these allegations with intention to hurt the reputation of the SFJ with malice and knowledge that these statements are false.”
“In 2016, the SFJ was instrumental in blocking Amarinder from addressing political rallies, but we used Canadian laws which strictly prohibit such activities and the SFJ filed a criminal prosecution based on the affidavits of the individuals who were tortured during his 2002-2007 tenure,” said Pannun.
The “ISI-SFJ nexus” row started when responding to the Sikh advocacy group’s “torture” case in Canada in April-July 2016, Amarinder stated that “the SFJ is playing into the hands of the anti-India forces like the ISI to embarrass India and project as if rights violations was the norm of the day in the country (India) like some dictatorships in different parts of the world”.