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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

Class action lawsuit against PM, intel blames pro-Khalistan units

The class action lawsuit was filed in the US district court of the southern district of Texas on Thursday, ahead of the prime minister’s arrival in Houston on Saturday for the first leg of his week-long visit to the US.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2019 01:03 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The class action lawsuit was filed in the US district court of the southern district of Texas on Thursday, ahead of the prime minister’s arrival in Houston on Saturday for the first leg of his week-long visit to the US.
The class action lawsuit was filed in the US district court of the southern district of Texas on Thursday, ahead of the prime minister’s arrival in Houston on Saturday for the first leg of his week-long visit to the US.(File photo: PTI)
         

A group calling itself Kashmir Khalistan Referendum Front (KKRF) and two unnamed Kashmiri-origin individuals have sued the Indian prime minister in a federal court in Texas over alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, according to media reports.

The class action lawsuit was filed in the US district court of the southern district of Texas on Thursday, ahead of the prime minister’s arrival in Houston on Saturday for the first leg of his week-long visit to the US.

The lawsuit names the Indian prime minister, home minister and commander of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps of the Indian Army as plaintiffs and accuses them of involvement in alleged rights violations and “cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment” of Kashmiris following the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5, the Houston Chronicle reported.

There was no immediate response from Indian officials though intelligence operatives familiar with developments said the lawsuit was the handiwork of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and his pro-Khalistan group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which was banned by the Indian government in July.

“Pannun has no support whatsoever, even from Khalistanis in the US and other countries. He is on the payroll of (Pakistan’s) Inter-Services Intelligence to create a new front and when he didn’t get any traction for his call for a separate Khalistan, he is trying to make noise under the banner of KKRF,” said an intelligence official who didn’t want to be named.

Pannun is in touch with ISI operatives and helps Khalistani members get visas for travelling to Pakistan, the official said. “His efforts to mislead Sikh youths in the US in the name of Khalistan have not been successful and we are keeping an eye on his activities,” the official added.

The National Investigation Agency is investigating Pannun’s so-called “Referendum 2020”, a plan to hold a referendum on the creation of Khalistan.

Indian security agencies are in touch with US counterparts on this issue, another official said. There are also plans to seek the help of other international agencies to restrict his activities.

Court documents in the US didn’t name the two Kashmiri individuals, a man and a woman, who filed the lawsuit, citing their “fear of retaliation” against family members living in India.

The court documents asked the defendants to respond with 21 days to the plaintiffs at Punnun’s address in New York.

Under a class action lawsuit, plaintiffs can sue defendants on behalf of absent parties.

In the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, relatives of two Jewish victims of the terrorist assault filed a class action lawsuit in a US court against serving and former heads of the ISI.

The lawsuit was filed by KKRF under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, a federal statute allowing civil suits on US soil against foreign officials, the Houston Chronicle reported.

First Published: Sep 21, 2019 01:03 IST

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