In cables dating back to the tenure of Henry Kissinger as US secretary of state, released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks, it has come out that India had made a request for extraditing Khalistan ideologue Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan from the US, but it was turned down.
Kissinger was the secretary of state in the administrations of US presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford in the 1970s.
The US department of state cable dated November 6, 1973, said, “Dept has learned Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, former Punjab finance minister and Akali Dal secretary, believed normally resident in London, has at his initiative called on number [sic] working-level officials around Washington and senate foreign relations staff in recent weeks. In calls, Singh has made a pitch for Sikh Independence, talked of Soviet and CPI (Communist Party of India) influence in India, and implied his movement had Iranian support and had substantial backing within Indian Army.”
The cable further said the US embassy had informed the department of state that “GOI (Government of India) has revoked Singh’s passport and made low-key inquiry whether it might be possible for us to deport him”. It added, “We explained that this was difficult as long as he was not violating any law.”
The cable, titled ‘Sikh Separatist Movement’, said, “[sic] would appreciate embassy Delhi’s assessment of significance of movement (Sikh separatist movement) and any pertinent information you may have on Singh. Only info in our files indicates in November 71 Singh made broadcast in Karachi and also visited New York.”
In another cable, dated December 19, 1973, which was sent from the UK to the US department of state, it was stated that Chohan must be getting financial support from the UK’s Pakistani community which was finding its way to Sikh separatists.
A cable dated November 10, 1973, sent from Iran to the US, said, quoting director general for political affairs (Asia, Africa) Soltan Hossein Sanandaji, who told the embassy (in Iran) that “Iran attached no importance to Sikh Independence or separatist movement. The Sikhs had perhaps received some encouragement in Islamabad and Peking (Beijing) but the government of Iran considered Sikh separatism a hopeless cause not worthy of any Iranian support.”
Chohan, who moved to the UK in 1971, had declared himself president of the “Republic of Khalistan”, named a cabinet, and issued passports, postage stamps and Khalistan dollars. He returned to India in 2001 after a 21-year-long exile and died in 2007.