Note: This is a release from the Courthouse News Service and as such represents a summary of legal proceedings, now in the pubilc domain. Sikh Philosophy Network does not support or deny the truth of the claims of plaintiff, Mr. Barapind. Extradited Sikh Claims India Tortured Him By ELIZABETH WARMERDAM http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/05/09/57470.htm FRESNO, Calif. (CN) - A Sikh political activist who was extradited from the United States claims in court that Indian intelligence officers tortured him despite the Indian government's promise that it would not happen. Kulvir Singh Barapind sued the Republic of India, the State Government of Punjab, the Punjab police and a slew of other Indian officials, under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The U.S. Secretary of State "agreed to extradite and surrender Mr. Barapind to India, but only after the Government of the Republic of India represented that Mr. Barapind would not suffer 'torture' in India as defined by the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment," Barapind says in the complaint. All of the defendants are Indians or Indian entities. Barapind claims the Indian government and its officials violated the agreement when they arrested him on Sept. 20, 2012 and "subjected him to torture as defined by the Convention." Barapind fled to the United States from India in 1993, claiming seeking for fear of political persecution. While in India, he had risen through the ranks of the All India Sikh Student Federation - a Sikh nationalist political organization that supports the secession of the state of Punjab from India - serving as president and then national secretary. "Mr. Barapind's political activities led him to gain notoriety as a 'folk hero' amongst the Punjab populace," Barapind says in the complaint. He claims his political activities "also led the Indian security forces to target him and his family for persecution." Barapind claims Indian security forces arrested him repeatedly, subjected him to "hideous" torture and broke his brother-in-law's legs. "As a result, Mr. Barapind decided to flee from India to the United States," he says in the complaint. Barapind says that in seeking political asylum he denied allegations by the Immigration and Naturalization Service that he was part of a Sikh militant separatist organization and that he had committed more than 50 murders in India. His application for asylum was denied, but he appealed and his case made its way to the 9th Circuit, which ruled that his application should be reviewed and his deportation withheld, according to the complaint. Before that could happen, the Indian government filed a complaint in California seeking to extradite him "to face criminal prosecution for 13 offenses," Barapind says. His asylum proceedings were suspended pending the outcome of the extradition proceedings. During the proceedings, Barapind "primarily argued that the Indian government did not provide competent evidence to establish probable cause that he had committed the alleged crimes described in the offenses, and that his extradition to India was barred under the political offense exception," he says in the complaint. "Mr. Barapind also unsuccessfully argued that he was not extraditable under the Convention because of the likelihood that he would suffer torture following his surrender." Barapind claims the U.S. Secretary of State "was aware of the grave potentiality that Mr. Barapind would be tortured if surrendered to India, and thus, negotiated with the Government of India as a term and condition of Mr. Barapind's surrender that he would not be tortured." "The Government of India through its Ministry of External Affairs agreed to the Secretary of State's terms and condition for surrendering Mr. Barapind by: 1) explaining India was itself a signatory to the Convention and thus was aware of the United States' and India's obligations under the Convention; and 2) agreeing to terms that if surrendered, Mr. Barapind 'shall not be subjected to any kind of torture,'" Barapind says. Barapind was extradited in 2006. He says he was criminally prosecuted by the Indian government but was acquitted of all charges and released from custody in 2008. He returned to his village, got married and farmed a family landholding. He became politically active again and in 2011 was elected to a committee "charged with the administration of gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) and Sikh education institutions," he says. By September 2012, he was president of an associated political group. That same month, Indian security forces raided his home and arrested him, he says. The courts put him in police custody, at which point, he says, Indian intelligence officers interrogated and tortured him. He claims they questioned him about "his alleged involvement in activities initiating the revival of Sikh separatists militancy, and his knowledge of arms and ammunition in order to do so." When Barapind denied these allegations, he says he was transferred to a room where Indian security forces did the following: "i. forced Mr. Barapind to undress and remove his sacred religious symbols; "ii. tied Mr. Barapind's hand behind his back and forced him to sit on the floor; "iii. on three occasions, stretched his legs apart at '180 degrees;' "iv. beat him with sticks; "v. verbally assaulted Mr. Barapind "vi. and, during this episode, defendant Shiv Kumar filmed Mr. Barapind with a handheld device." The next day, officers again stretched Barapind's legs apart and beat him with sticks. They also tied his arms and legs to a chair and applied electric shocks intermittently to his ear lobes for 15 minutes, verbally assaulted him and threatened him with further torture, he says. These tortures continued for five days, during which time Indian security forces also "remained at his house, harassing and humiliating Mr. Barapind's spouse," he says. The security forces and Punjabi police robbed his home and raided the homes of his family members who lived in the same village, Barapind says. Barapind says he remains in jail and has been denied bail. The Indian security forces initially arrested him as a "preventive measure" because of a scheduled civil protest, but charged him with "extensive 'terrorist' activities stretching throughout India and even Canada," the complaint states. Barapind denies it, calling it "politically motivated." He seeks declaratory judgment "that defendants have subjected Mr. Barapind to torture as defined by the Convention in violation of the terms of his surrender and have breached their legal duty to safeguard him from such treatment," and $10 million in punitive damages. He is represented by Kamardeep Singh Athwal with the Sikh Alliance in Modesto.