US lawsuit demands terror label on Indian group
Sikh activists said they filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in New York demanding the United States blacklist as a terrorist organization a hardline Hindu group linked to India`s ruling party.
New York: Sikh activists said they filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in New York demanding the United States blacklist as a terrorist organization a hardline Hindu group linked to India`s ruling party.
The federal court issued a summons for US Secretary of State John Kerry to respond to the suit within 60 days, according to court papers sent to AFP by US-based advocacy group "Sikhs For Justice."
The 26-page complaint likened Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to Nigeria`s armed group Boko Haram.
It held the RSS, the ideological mentor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), responsible for instigating multiple acts of violence.
Activists accused RSS of "running a passionate, vicious and violent campaign to turn India into a `Hindu` nation with a homogeneous religious and cultural identity."
The lawsuit comes with US President Barack Obama to be guest of honor at India`s Republic Day celebrations on January 26.
A New York judge last week dismissed on grounds of immunity a lawsuit that accused Modi of "attempted genocide" over deadly 2002 anti-Muslim riots that killed at least 1,000 people.
Gurpatwant Pannun, legal advisor to Sikhs for Justice, told AFP they filed the suit after Kerry failed to respond to a written request last month for the State Department to blacklist RSS.
The group came under fire last month after 200 Christians were converted en masse in Modi`s home state, fanning concern at the right-wing government`s perceived pro-Hindu tilt.
Kerry held talks with Modi in India this month, hailing him as a "visionary" poised to transform the Indian economy.
India is a secular country under the constitution and religious freedom is considered a fundamental right.
But critics say Hindu hardline groups have become emboldened since the BJP was elected, promoting a Hindu-dominant agenda.
Sikhs for Justice is a small non-profit group that Pannun said was backed by "most" of the estimated 500,000 Sikhs who live in the United States.