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Federal Appeals Court Says Return Sikh Militant to India


The Associated Press, San Francisco, Mar. 10, 2004

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that a militant charged in India with murdering 52 people and wounding 13 others as part of a campaign to enforce strict dress and behavior codes among his fellow Sikhs should be returned to India to face charges. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Kulvir Singh Barapind, who was arrested and detained in Los Angeles in 1993 on charges of having a phony passport, should be returned to stand trial. Barapind was the deputy chief of Khalistan Commando Force [K.C.F.], one of the main secessionist groups operating for a decade in the northern Punjab state before Indian troops crushed the movement in 1994. More than 15,000 people were killed during the rebellion.

He claimed his prosecution was politically motivated, that there was not enough evidence against him and that he should remain in the United States because he would be politically persecuted and tortured upon return because of his religious beliefs. The man is accused of targeting civilians who violated the religion's strict codes in 1991 and 1992. Sikhs are required to wear the traditional baggy pantsuit known as salwar kameez, sing prayers several times a day, and women are required to cover their heads.