Amritsar July 17, Leaders of the Sikh community in the United States have said that they have reservations about the US-India civilian nuclear cooperation deal, and are determined to continue their campaign against it.
Several of these leaders feel that South Asia should be a nuclear free region, and they have appealed to the eleven Sikh members of the Indian parliament, belonging to different parties, to vote against the deal.
They believe the deal is against the interests of Punjab. These Members of Parliament have also been asked to forget about (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh being a Sikh.
In a press statement issued in Washington on Thursday, radical Sikh leader Dr. Amarjit Singh said: "It is indeed unfortunate, nay it is a tragedy, that in the current controversial debate about the Indo-US nuclear deal, no Punjabi leader, elected or self-appointed, (with the exception of Sardar Simranjit Singh Mann) has had the moral courage to stand up and mention the incontrovertible fact that the safety of Punjab, its shrines and its inhabitants, their children and their children, lies in a nuclear free South Asia."
The statement went on to state that the deal could pave the way for India to undertake what they called "'hush-hush' bomb making activity" without any international inspection/restraint.
Explaining that Punjab is already under threat from Pakistani nuclear missiles, Amarjit Singh said, India would also have to reckon with Chinese nuclear missiles raining down on the country from Tibet.
He claimed that China was obviously monitoring the Indian debate on the nuclear deal.
The statement concluded by observing that media debate on the deal has spawned the most divisive and partisan politics, that India has ever witnessed a time when the country is faced with the possibility of financial emergency as inflation and oil prices rise higher and higher, the stock market goes lower and lower and the economy deteriorates further and further.
However, NRI Sikh leader Dr. Rajwant Singh appealed to all political parties to support Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the nuclear deal with the United States.
"This agreement is for the betterment of India and millions will benefit once this deal is implemented," Dr. Rajwant Singh, who is the Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, a non-profit organization, said.
"We had asked members of U.S. Congress to support this deal after the agreement was presented for vote," he added.
He claimed that there was an overwhelming support among the political leaders in America to improve relations with India and help her gain energy self-sufficiency.
"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has demonstrated visionary leadership skills in creating immense admiration for India among the G-8 countries and also among other emerging powers that they have come around to accept this agreement and support India 's new status," he said.
"Although Shiromani Akali Dal has decided to vote against the UPA government on this issue, but in the interest of the nation and Punjab, I request them to reconsider their decision," Dr. Rajwant Singh said. By Ravinder Singh Robin