Indian American Congressional Statement Falls Short On India’s Assassination Program
"Most egregiously absent from the statement is any mention of Sikhs."
Amar Singh Shergill
December 19, 2023 | 3 min. read | Opinion
In a recent short joint statement, U.S. Representatives Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Shri Thanedar expressed their concern regarding the indictment of Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national, working with Indian government officials, implicated in a foiled plot to assassinate a U.S. citizen in New York City.
They also inexplicably expressed support for the Indian government to investigate itself.
Although there are ample grounds for criticism, let’s first acknowledge that their joint statement is progress, however small.
While Jayapal is often directly critical of India’s atrocious human rights record and Khanna has also offered criticism at times, Bera, Raja, and Shri have been missing in action in the past.
Notably, Bera has been regularly accused of being a genocide denier, routinely downplaying the Indian government's involvement in the 1984 Genocide of Sikhs, despite a unanimous genocide resolution recently passed by the California state legislature.
Given that context, it's important to recognize the role of Khanna and Jayapal in pushing for any statement that all were willing to sign on to.
While the statement appropriately acknowledges the basic facts presented by the FBI and US Department of Justice, it falls short of addressing the gravity of the threat to the sovereignty of the US government and the safety of its citizens. Consequently, the joint statement has been rightly criticized by civil rights leaders from the Hindu and Sikh civil rights community.
Most egregiously absent from the statement is any mention of Sikhs.
Given the well-documented evidence of India's transcontinental strategy to murder Sikhs in the U.S. and Canada, it is astonishing that the statement did not include any discussion of threats to Sikhs as individuals or as a community.
A leaked letter from an Indian Minister, essentially a ‘kill list’ of Sikh activists, outlined plans for a 'sophisticated crackdown' against Sikhs which aimed for ‘concrete measures’ ; months later one person on the kill list was dead and others targeted. It is the duty of the Congressional Representatives to respond directly to this threat.
The Representatives’ joint statement also needlessly affirms support for India to conduct an investigation into its own murder plot.
The U.S. simply should never trust the word of a government implicated in a transnational conspiracy to murder Americans on American soil. Instead, India should be called on to cooperate and be transparent with American and international investigations.
Our Representatives should not be satisfied to wait for India to tell us what they think we need to know.
As details continue to emerge and India's role is increasingly obvious, it is imperative for Congressional leaders to provide a robust response.
This should include public statements acknowledging the gravity of the situation and recognizing threats against Sikhs, as well as initiating hearings to thoroughly investigate and address the assassination plot and transnational repression.
In these challenging times, our elected officials must lead and assure the American public that they understand the stakes involved. A transparent and decisive response is not only necessary for justice but also to safeguard the integrity of our nation and its citizens.
Amar Singh Shergill is the Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party. He is also an award winning trial lawyer.
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