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|June 29, 2001||
The Rediff Interview/Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan
The self styled president of the so-called Khalistan, Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan's return to India has created a furore in Punjab's political circles. More than his return, what bothers the state's Congress politicians are his statements on Khalistan.
"Khalistan was never a dead issue. I still want the creation of Khalistan," says Chohan. After living in the UK for over two decades, 74-year-old Chohan was allowed to return to India by the Punjab and Haryana high court on May 29.
"I have come back to India because it is my home. Nobody can stop me from coming back to my land," he told Senior Special Correspondent Onkar Singh, in an exclusive interview at his home in Mohali near Chandigarh.
Why have you come back to India at a crucial juncture, when the Punjab assembly election is only a few months away?
Punjab is my homeland and India is my country. I came back because I wanted to return to my own land. Nobody can stop me from doing that.
Why did you forget your home for more then 21 years when you lived in London?
When did you move the court?
In the past, on three occasions I have moved the court -- without luck. But this particular case has been pending since 1995.
What was the problem?
There was no problem. I wanted to get my passport back. I wanted travel documents because they had revoked my passport.
When did the Government of India revoke your passport?
I went to London in May 1980 and my travel documents (passport) were revoked a few months later. They did not give me any reason. No reason has ever been given till date.
Why didn't you return when Punjab was reeling under the blood bath?
I wanted to return. Both India Today and Sunday magazine carried articles highlighting my views on various issues and how desparately I wanted to come back to India. You can check these magazines for my views.
It is said you encouraged violence in Punjab by sending directives to young militants.
No, this is not true. I have never encouraged violence. I have been condemning violence all along. I have always been striving to come back to India and fight the violence in Punjab.
Now when the problem of the so-called Khalistan is over, you return and start propagating your views on Khalistan. Why?
The problem is not over. Khalistan was the idea of the first guru of the Sikhs -- Guru Nanak. This has been continuing in this land for so many hundred years. And every new generation has been contributing to this idea.
Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa Panth. The Khalsa Panth has been striving for Khalsa Raj. We are only part of this whole movement. Banda Bahadur was the first one. Then came Maharaja Ranjit Singh and then came the Shiromani Akali Dal. Then the Namdharis joined in. They were all fighting the British for the restoration of the Khalsa Raj.
As of today the Khalistan movement is dead in Punjab. Why do you want to revive it?
The movement you think is dead should have died many many years ago. The movement for Khalistan (which preached violence) should have died right in the beginning. Violence was never part of the Khalistan movement and can never be part of the Khalistan movement even now.
Khalistan is a philosophical ideology based on very humane principles.
Did you tell Khalistan Commando Force chief Wasan Singh Zaffarwal to surrender?
This is correct. I convinced him that whatever path he was following was wrong. He was convinced and that is why he surrendered before the Indian authorities.
Where did you meet Zaffarwal?
I met him two years ago in Switzerland.
What did you tell him?
I told him we could achieve Guru Nanak's mission through peaceful and democratic means. I told him Khalistan could not be created by violence. He understood my point and agreed to come back to India.
Is it true you have been in touch with the Research and Analysis Wing and that you told RAW you wanted to return to India?
I don't know what are you talking about. I have never met anyone from this organization nor did anyone came to see me.
Do you know a few months before you were allowed to land on Indian soil, Hashim Qureshi -- the hijacker of an Indian Airlines plane in 1971-- was also permitted to return to India?
I do not know who Hashim Qureshi is, and why he came back to India. I have nothing to do with him. I don't know his story. I have come back on my own. Nobody has brought me back.
What is your game plan?
My game plan is very simple. To talk to the media. To talk to other people. The explain the Khalsa ideology. To explain what Khalsa Raj can be. To explain the philosophy of Guru Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh. To promote peace and harmony.
You have been dubbed an ISI agent.
That is their will. They can say whatever they want. Yes, people have been saying so many things about me. Someone called me an agent of the USA. Someone calls me a RAW agent. I deny all the charges levelled against me.
Where are your Kenyan bodyguards?
They were provided to me by Scotland Yard.
Because I was a guest of the British government. I was even provided with electronic security. I am thankful to them for providing me with security. This is their custom. They gave the same security to Karl Marx. He wrote his book in London.
If you did not commit any offences, why was the Government of India against you?
Ask them. I have never committed any crime. I have never done anything wrong. If I had done anything the English government would have prosecuted me.
You say you did not commit any offence, did you not float the Khalistani currency, set a radio station in Anandpur Sahib (as per police records)? Are these not offences?
I did float the Khalistani currency. I set up a radio station for Khalistan but not in Anandpur Sahib but in the Golden Temple complex.
Were you apprehensive that the Punjab police would arrest you when you landed in India?
No, not at all.
Why then did you move for anticipatory bail in the Punjab and Haryana high court?
It is always better to take preventive measures. I have got enemies and I have got friends. So I should be careful about them.
Are you here for a political gamble?
There is no gamble. I am here for a political move.
Are you planning to meet Prime Minister Vajpayee?
Prime Minister Vajpayee is a great statesman and I fear to think what might have happened if he was not at the helm of affairs. I will meet him if he calls me. But I am not going to ask for an appointment.
Are you meeting Akali leaders like Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal?
No. I will be meeting Simaranjit Singh Mann. His father Joginder Singh Mann was a colleague. He is not well. I will go and see him.
Are you planning to visit the Golden Temple?
Yes, around July 10.
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