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Wednesday, 27 June, 2001, 18:08 GMT 19:08 UK
Sikh separatist returns home defiant
Golden Temple
A raid was launched on the Golden Temple in 1984
A leading Sikh separatist, Jagjit Singh Chauhan, says he still favours an independent Sikh nation - Khalistan - and plans to continue campaigning for it.

Mr Chauhan was speaking on Wednesday on his return to India after over 20 years of exile in Britain.


I still stand by Khalistan and I will continue the movement up to its logical conclusion

Jagjit Singh Chauhan
He faces criminal charges over allegations that he was involved in a bloody separatist campaign in the Sikh-dominated northern state of Punjab in the 1980s.

Speaking to journalists in the Punjab capital, Chandigarh, Mr Chauhan said he strongly opposed the use of violence.

"I still stand by Khalistan and I will continue the movement up to its logical conclusion," he said.

"I am not in favour of violence. I condemn it. But I will explain my cause to all the leaders of the state.

The BBC's Asit Jolly in Chandigarh says Mr Chauhan was one of the few Sikhs to speak out against the violence that hit Punjab in the 80s and 90s.

Mr Chauhan said he planned to involve himself in the political process but would not join any political group or fight elections.

Return

The 70-year-old Sikh leader's passport had been impounded by the Indian Government and he travelled on an emergency certificate apparently issued by the Indian High Commission in London.

Mr Chauhan arrived in Delhi on a British Airways flight and disembarked on a wheelchair.

The immigration officials allowed him to pass through but his lawyer, Ranjan Lakhan Pal, said he feared that his client might be detained later.

Wassan Singh Zaffarwal
Separatist Wassan Singh Zaffarwal was arrested last month
Mr Pal said the Sikh leader might be arrested when he visited his relatives in Punjab where most cases against him have been filed.

Mr Chauhan had appealed against his possible arrest at the High Court in Punjab but the petition was rejected.

He may now file a similar appeal in the Supreme Court, his lawyer said.

Campaign

Mr Chauhan who was the state's finance minister for three years from 1967 went into exile in Britain in 1980 at the peak of the Sikh separatist campaign.

In London, Mr Chauhan led the call for a Sikh homeland, Khalistan. The call, however, did not get much international support.

In June 1984, Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi ordered an army raid on Sikhism's holiest shrine - the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

The move angered the Sikh community and was followed by the assassination of Mrs Gandhi by her own Sikh bodyguards four months later.

The Khalistan movement died out in the 1990s and last month another Sikh separatist, Wassan Singh Zafarwal, returned to India, and was immediately arrested.

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See also:

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