Amnesty International issued a report Friday accusing the Indian government of serious human-rights abuses in the state of Punjab, and it urged the victors of upcoming national elections to remedy the situation.
In a 31-page response issued in London, the human-rights group said the Indian government called the report biased and exaggerated. However, the Indian comments were not made available, and New Delhi made no separate statements.Amnesty International's 62-page report complained about a wave of killings, detentions, tortures and disappearances by police and security forces now shielded from prosecution by a recent law.
"The already critical human-rights situation is going to get worse unless the new government orders its forces to stop the abuses," said the report.
"Those police and security force officers which secretly arrest, torture or extrajudicially execute people must be brought to justice, and the special powers that have led to such abuses must be curbed," it said.
Indian troops have been stationed since 1987 in the northern state of Punjab in response to a Sikh battle for an independent state. In the past four years, Sikhs have killed more than 4,000 people, including 500 police officers, according to government statistics.
Although Sikhs make up only 2 percent of India's 840 million people, they account for 60 percent of the 20 million people living in Punjab.
The Indian rebuttal disputed Amnesty International's claim that more than 10,000 people are being detained in Punjab. It also supplied information on 24 of the 42 cases of alleged tortures described in the Amnesty International report, the group said.
In its report, the London-based group said police have killed hundreds of Sikhs in staged shootings. In other cases police claim that murdered detainees were trying to escape.