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Sikh riots, Godhra may be on Bush agenda

It is essential that human rights be treated as an important issue like trade and civilian nuclear partnership.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2006 12:41 IST

The nuclear deal may not be the only thing that US President Bush will discuss when he visits India.

He has been urged to include rights concerns on his agenda of discussions with the Prime Minister.

"Even though India is the world's largest democracy, there remain disturbing human rights abuses, including extra-judicial executions, deaths in police and military custody, rape, torture and arbitrary arrests," said T Kumar, Amnesty's Asia-Pacific advocacy director in Washington, who issued the request.

Amnesty urged Bush to seek, among others, the abolition of a law preventing prosecution of military personnel who allegedly committed abuses in Kashmir and the Northeast.

"The abolition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 is vital and those held under such laws should be released," Kumar said. "Thousands have disappeared in Kashmir and the total casualties since 1989 are believed to be around 38,000."

They also highlighted the killing of more than 3,000 Sikhs in 1984 following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

"Twenty years have passed since the massacre, but only a few have been brought to justice for this mass killing," Kumar said.

Amnesty also urged Bush to press for those involved in the killing of more than 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 to be brought to justice.

"It is essential that human rights be treated as an important issue like trade and civilian nuclear partnership," Kumar added.

First Published: Feb 24, 2006 12:41 IST