Thatcher wanted to prosecute Sikh who incited Indira’s killing

Aditi Khanna

London:Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wanted to take legal action against a UK-based Sikh resistance leader accused of inciting Indira Gandhi’s assassination but failed to comply with India’s request to deport him due to British law towards Commonwealth citizens, newly declassified documents released today said.

Jagjit Singh Chauhan, the founder of the Khalistan movement, had moved to Britain in 1971 to carry on his campaign for an independent Sikh state in India.

He is believed to be the chief instigator behind the assassination of the former Indian Prime Minister on October 31, 1984, predicting months before in a BBC interview her death at the hands of her Sikh bodyguard that she and her family would be “beheaded” as a revenge for ‘Operation Blue Star’, the raid on Golden Temple to flush out terrorists.

Now documents released under the 30-year declassification rule by the UK’s National Archives in Kew, south-west London, highlight the Thatcher government’s failed attempts at curbing his activities.

Her private secretary Charles Powell wrote to the UK Home Office: “She (Thatcher) does not see how Chauhan can evade the charge of inciting to violence simply by saying he is not doing so… The Prime Minister is of the view that the Law Officers might with advantage study the papers once more.”

“The Indians formally requested the deportation of Chauhan on 4 March 1976 on the grounds of anti-Indian activities… we could not comply with the request because it ran counter to British law and policies towards Commonwealth citizens,” Sir Geoffrey Howe, foreign secretary in Thatcher’s Cabinet, wrote in apparent explanation over her concerns of Chauhan’s continued presence in the UK.

“In theory, Chauhan could also be excluded or deported at the discretion of the Home Secretary… but this action could only be taken if, amongst other factors, there was concrete evidence that he had engaged in very serious criminal activities,” he added.

Chauhan had received an official warning that his outbursts must remain within the bounds of the law but the UK government failed to take legal action due to lack of any “concrete evidence”. . ( PTI)