Minister for Road Transport and Highways Kamal Nath was handed a summons regarding his involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots while he was delivering a lecture at the Indian Consulate in New York on Wednesday.
The case was filed by a New York-based activist group, Sikhs for Justice at the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
When handed the copy of the summons, the minister seemed taken aback but also appeared unfazed by it. Perusing the document, he said, “This is the first time I’m hearing of it.”
“This shows the absurdity of it. Twenty-five years later, it’s not an issue in India,” he said, reacting the summons. He also indicated that the lack of even a police case against him in India shows the lack of authenticity of this legal manoeuvre.
“I have never been charged, in any case, in any court of law, for anything to do with the anti-Sikh riots,” he said. He also said he was “appalled” by how this issue was being raised in an “orchestrated” manner.
The Minister had also faced protests while he was in Canada in late March. He pointed out that this issue was being raised in recent days despite his regular visits to the US and Canada. “Last year I was not involved when I came. Nobody raised it. The year before last, I wasn’t involved. For the last 25 years, I’ve never been involved. Suddenly in 2010, I get involved.”
Gurpatwant Pannun of Sikhs for Justice, said in an email, “Kamal Nath has been served (a notice) this evening.”
Kamal Nath is in the US, meeting representatives of financial institutions seen as potential investors in infrastructure development in India.
The plaintiffs in the case are Sikhs for Justice along with Jasbir Singh and Mohinder Singh.