The US had an "interest" in Punjab militancy and hatched a "covert action plan" in collusion with Pakistan's ISI in 1971 to encourage a separatist movement in the border state, says a new book by a former top Indian Intelligence officer.
The American "interest" in Punjab militancy lasted for a little more than a decade through the seventies and eighties after the covert plan was initiated by the Richard Nixon administration, says the book by B Raman, who had worked for the Research and Analysis (RAW) wing. The interest waned after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, according to the book.
The book titled The Kaoboys of R&AW -- Down the Memory Lane said "one saw the beginning of a joint covert operation by the US intelligence community and Pakistan's ISI in 1971 to create difficulties for India in Punjab." "The(covert) plan envisaged the encouragement of a separatist movement among the Sikhs for an independent state to be called Khalistan," says Raman, who had retired as Additional Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat.
Elaborating, Raman said Jagjit Singh Chauhan, a Sikh leader from Punjab, went to the UK and took over the leadership of the defunct Sikh Home Rule movement and renamed it after Khalistan.
The then Pakistani military ruler Yahya Khan invited Chauhan to Pakistan, "lionised" him as a leader of Sikhs and handed over some Sikh holy relics kept in Pakistan, which he took to the UK to win a following in the Sikh diaspora.
Chauhan also went to New York, met officials of the United Nations and some American journalists and alleged human rights violations of Sikhs in India. "These meetings were discreetly organised by officials of the US National Security Council Secretariat then headed by (Henry) Kissinger," the former R&AW officer says.