September 11 Digital Archive

Khalistan rocks Capitol Hill again

Title

Khalistan rocks Capitol Hill again

Source

born-digital

Media Type

article

Original Name

In a startling disclosure of allegedly insidious lobbying, the self-styled president of the exiled C

Created by Author

yes

Described by Author

no

Date Entered

2002-05-10

VTMBH Article: Edition

20

VTMBH Article: Article Order

3

VTMBH Article: Title

Khalistan rocks Capitol Hill again

VTMBH Article: Author

Sujeet Rajan

VTMBH Article: Publication

Indian Express (North American Edition)

VTMBH Article: Original Language

English

VTMBH Article: Translator

VTMBH Article: Section

news

VTMBH Article: Blurb

In a startling disclosure of allegedly insidious lobbying, the self-styled president of the exiled Council of Khalistan for 16 years, Dr. Gurmit Singh Aulakh, has been accused by several Congressional aides of tricking them and in turn the Representatives into signing letters to support his cause.

VTMBH Article: Keywords

VTMBH Article: Body

Nearly a decade after Punjab returned to normalcy, and Kashmir became the topic of discussion on Indian geo-politics, the issue of Khalistan and self-determination for Sikhs has once again surfaced on Capitol Hill.

In a startling disclosure of alleged insidious lobbying, the self-styled president of the exiled Council of Khalistan for 16 years, Dr. Gurmit Singh Aulakh, has been accused by several Congressional aides of tricking them and in turn the Representatives into signing letters to support his cause: the release of 52,000 Sikh political prisoners in India.

Also, last month, the issue of Khalistan figured prominently in Congressional speeches by Rep. Dan Burton (R.-Ind.) and Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), both long-time supports of Aulakh. Both raised the issue of self-determination for the Sikhs and said the Sikh community was living in oppression in Khalistan in India. In reply, last week the Indian ambassador, Lalit Mansingh, dashed separate letters to the two Congressmen, refuting the allegations.

The suave, one-time Harvard don Aulakh, who is a trained virologist and has also worked at the National Institute of Health, was accused of a misinformation conspiracy by Courtney Anderson, the senior legislative assistant for Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who says that Aulakh duped a junior staffer in the office to believe that Shimkus had agreed to sign a letter to release political prisoners in India, reported The Hill. Since Shimkus name was already on the letter, the staff later got Shimkus to sign on the letter. The report also quoted other aides of Representatives as saying that Aulakh has been engaging in similar practices for several years.

Hes sort of grandfatherly, an aide to a Congressman in the India Caucus is quoted as saying. He says in a soft voice, Im here for the congressmans signature on this letter. When we called up later, about a quarter of (foreign policy aides) genuinely did not have the foggiest clue they signed it, the aide said, referring to one of Aulakhs previous letters. (But) theyre reluctant (to have the signatures removed) because they dont want to be seen as flip-flopping.

A legislative assistant to another Republican representative is also quoted as saying in the report that Aulakh tried to adopt similar measures at his office, coming in three times and saying the Congressman had agreed to sign the letter. But the office had been warned of the lobbyists tactics, and he refused. A former aide to Rep. Ken Bentson (D-Texas) said Aulakh had got another office to sign the letter in a similar way, says the report. The aide said Aulakh had put Bentsens name on the letter before anyone ever saw it. The only time that happens is when a member has (already) agreed to sign the letter, the aide is quoted as saying.

Anderson complained to Aulakh and was able to get Shimkus signature taken off the letter, which was eventually sent to the President in February with 42 members of Congress signed on it. Burton and Towns had sponsored the letter.

Anderson believes some of the signatures on the letter sent to the President may have also been the result of confusion and has asked the House Administration Committee to get involved.

Shimkus, taking a hard line against Aulakhs tactics, in a March 22 letter to House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio), wanted stringent measure to be taken to stop further such unscrupulous lobbying.

The Hill reported quotes another House Representative aide as saying: My relationship has been totally fine (with Aulakh); hes been really nice and informative.

The legislative aide said his office chose not to sign the letter partly because of past links between the Sikh independence movement and terrorist activity. I understand he actually has a really good reputation on Capitol Hill, the aide is quoted as saying.

Sources at the Indian Embassy, speaking to The Indian Express on condition of anonymity, said that the tactics adopted by Aulakh to get the letter on political prisoners signed is not surprising. He has for years tried to get a disinformation campaign going, the source said. Asked if the Embassy was going to try and press some charges, a source said that since Aulakh is a U.S. citizen, the American law will take its own course. Aulakh came to the United States in 1970.

Its not for us to put in a complaint, the source added.

In his defense, Aulakh, speaking to The Indian Express, said the allegations against him are incorrect.

It is very clear that the staffer (Courtney) is a freshman and the Congressman too is a freshman, Aulakh said. They made a mistake. I dont mislead anybody. I have never misled anybody. If I misled anybody here, I would not be here for 16 years. It is their responsibility to see what they are signing just like I give them the letter in good faith.

Aulakh condemned the communal disturbances in Gujarat, saying that it is akin to a repeat of 1984 and attributed the continuing incidents in Gujarat to a growing interest in the issue of Khalistan on Capitol Hill.

When asked what he is doing for the Sikh cause in the United States, Aulakh said that he was making sure that Congressmen and Senators are more aware now of the Sikh identity in the country. It has helped the Sikh community tremendously (the cases of discrimination), he said. Everybody now knows who the Sikhs are.

VTMBH Article: Line Breaks

1

VTMBH Article: Date

2002-05-10

VTMBH Article: Thumb

VTMBH Article: Article File

v20_n3.pdf

VTMBH Article: Hit Count

104

Citation

“Khalistan rocks Capitol Hill again,” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed March 28, 2020, https://911digitalarchive.org/items/show/1246.