Friday, June 29, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Chohan’s remarks unwarranted
Breach of understanding, says Centre
T. R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
The BJP-led NDA government has taken serious view of the Jagjit Singh Chohan reiterating his commitment to Khalistan within hours of his return from exile in Britain.

Highly placed sources emphasised here today that “it is a serious breach of the understanding” reached with Dr Chohan which paved the way for his return home to Punjab after being out of the country for nearly two decades.

The Vajpayee government is actively considering intervening in the matter if the aberration is not corrected immediately.

Authoritative sources said even though “Khalistan is a dead chapter”, Dr Chohan needs to be warned in no uncertain terms that any intent to inflame passions and create a law and order situation would be dealt with an iron hand.

Dr Chohan who returned here on Tuesday night from London is being conveyed the concerns of the Centre in unambiguous terms. This is all the more so because Dr Chohan has sought to raise the bogey of Khalistan yet again which is contrary to his statements made in the recent past.

The authorities here are unable to spell the reasons why Dr Chohan chose to make the provocative statement on Khalistan. The Centre is inimical and opposed to playing the Khalistan card for political purposes by any party or organisation in Punjab or elsewhere.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is seized of the developments connected with Dr Chohan’s return home, especially as Union Home Minister L.K. Advani is on a foreign tour and expected back this week-end.

The Centre’s concern on Dr Chohan raking up the Khalistan issue is believed to have been conveyed to the Punjab Government, including Chief Minister and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal.

It appears that there were differences between the Centre and the Badal government about allowing the self-styled president of the so-called Council of Khalistan to return to India.

This was made possible after the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the Union Government to issue the necessary travel documents to Dr Chohan through the Indian High Commission in London. Rejecting the government's plea, the court said that Dr Chohan could not be denied his fundamental rights solely on the basis of intelligence reports that he supported secession.

The judgement assumes significance in the wake of announcements by Mr Advani and Mr Badal that the blacklist of Sikh activists needs to be reviewed. Mr Badal had met Mr Advani in May, demanding a review of the blacklist of Sikhs who had shifted to various countries at the height of militancy in Punjab in the 1980s and 1990s. The blacklist has been steadily scaled down over the years.

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