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Harpal Singh Cheema: Sikhs Must Have Khalistan
By ANJU AGNIHOTRI CHABA
The Indian Express, Jalandhar, May 3, 2006
'To get Khalistan through peaceful means is the purpose of my life and I will struggle for it till the end,' said former militant Harpal Singh Cheema, who has been deported from San Francisco. He was brought to Jalandhar by a police team last night and, subsequently, sent into judicial remand.
Cheema said, without getting Khalistan the Sikhs could not live with honour and respect. He said he had been implicated in a false case as he had never resorted to violent means to achieve his goal.
Talking to The Indian Express, the former militant said there were a large number of Khalistan supporters in America. Sikh Youth of America, the largest Sikh organisation abroad, was working towards the goal of an independent Khalistan, he said. Cheema was the president of the organisation for five years from 1997 to 2001.
He had been arrested by the Jalandhar police in 1992 with six kilograms of R.D.X. in his possession from Kukkar village here. He had remained in jail for three years. After getting bail he had fled to the U.S. as an illegal immigrant. He was then declared a proclaimed offender. The U.S. police arrested him in 1997 and since then he had been in jail there.
Cheema had also applied for political asylum but the U.S. Government did not grant it on the grounds that he had links with militant organisations and could therefore be a danger to the U.S. The tightening of U.S. laws on the issue after the 9/11 attacks meant that Cheema lost his legal battle there.
Cheema, who hails from Lahori Kalan village in Fatehgarh Sahib district, said many former militants settled abroad wanted to return to the country to be with their families but the Indian government and the police did not want that to happen.
To express their solidarity with Cheema, several Akali leaders, including Dal Khalsa's Kanwar Pal Singh, Kuldip Singh Wadala of S.A.D. (Badal) and S.G.P.C. member from Fatehgarh Sahib Karnail Singh Pinjoli met him at the Sadar police station.
The former militant received V.I.P. treatment at the police station. Mineral water was served to him along with food from an upmarket restaurant. Also, nobody was stopped from meeting him.