By ZUHAIR KASHMERI
(By arrangement with The Globe and Mail, Canada)
Vancouver: B.C. Meet Harpal Singh Ghuman 25 who is suspected by police, Sikh separatist and Canadian officials as the Indian James Bond. Para, chuted into Canada to get troubled Sikh Community to further divide it. The allegations are not new to Mr. Ghuman. In at least 15 meetings at Sikh temples across Canada he has been asked about his purported connections to central Bureau of Investigation the umbrella agency that looks after the country’s intelligence. Wearing a saffron turban which Sikhs wear during the defensive war, he leans forward with both hands joined, weighing each word before speaking. Unflinchingly he volunteers some of the allegations made against him. Laughing some off, calmly denying others, and never losing his composure. But some of the answers in a 90 minute interview are contradictory and Mr. Ghuman seems to have some difficulty remembering his name. He acknowledged that he used a second name in India Rajinder Pal Singh Nagra, but he says his real name is Harpal Ghuman, Mr. Ghuman recalls being interviewed by a BBC correspondent during 1984 regarding a speech given by him at Golden Temple Amritsar. The correspondence Satish Jacob says that Harpal Ghuman he interviewed was an Indian Intelligence man planted in the holiest Sikh Shrine, “let him give proof,” Mr. Ghuman responded, “I have are no connections most of the time I stayed with Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale a solider priest who was killed during the Indian army assault on the Golden Temple last year. First I did law and attended lectures. Also my real name is Harpal Ghuman. Jacob says Harpal Ghuman he interviewed worked for the third agency which consists of the officers of Intelligence Bureau and researched an Analysis wing both controlled by the CBI India’s version of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Mr. Ghuman, however swears he is true to the Sikh cause. He is the major force in the International Sikh Youth Federation Youths most separatist Sikh group.
Mr. Ghurman says, “his groups aim is to take over all Sikh temples and the two mainstream Sikh movements the WSO and the Khalistan National Front, Khalistan is the name chosen by the Sikhs for the country they are seeking and create one group to fight for the creation of a Sikh Homeland. He has a large following of young Sikhs every few weeks he baptizes more making sure that they wear the steel bracelet, the turban and the Kirpan, the little ceremonial dagger. That they obtain from smoking and drinking and that they become soldiers of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Mr. Ghuman says he has completed a University Arts Program and a Law Degree, has waged excessive guerilla warfare for the Sikh cause. He has been charged with three counts of murder by the Indian police and has withstood imprisonment and torture by police all before he turned 24 last year when he fled the country, the son of a police inspector in Punjab, he was studying Law at the University of Rajasthan Jaipur when he joined the all India Sikh Student Federation. Some of whose members are known to be from the nexalite party, a violent proleftist group. Mainstream Sikh separatist are staunchly anticommunist. The AlSSF has its headquarters from which Mr. Ghuman operated in Amritsar, the capital of Punjab and home of Golden Temple.
It is about 550 kilometers from Jaipur where Mr. Ghuman studied. His activities got him into trouble during his final year at law from 198083 and was jailed several times. AISSF had been banned at the time as a terrorist organization by the Indian govt. Mr. Ghuman says he became a member of AISSF organizing Secretary and worked directly under the General Secretary Harminder Singh Sandhu, who is in an Indian Jail. He says he was deputed by Mr. Bhindranwale who was later killed when the Indian Army assaulted the Golden Temple on June 5th, to set up an International Youth Federation and carry on the work of AISSF. I left the temple on June 34 at midnight. The army attack had started and the bullets were flying Bhindranwale had said that whoever has no weapon or whose weapons and bullets are finished should leave and organize outside. My weapons had finished so I left. Mr. Ghurman says the WSO and the Khalistan Govt. in exile are unjustly by accusing him of playing a role in the jailing of Mr. Bhindranwala’s son Jasbir Singh. Mr. Singh was in Dubai when his father was killed in the Temple. Two Sikhs from AlSSF approached him saying that they had been deputed by Mr. Bhindranwale to set up an International Youth Federation with Mr. Singh as the head. The two men convinced Mr. Singh to fly with one of them to Philippines. Security officials had been alerted about Mr. Singh’s arrival and he was put on a flight to England. The man accompanying Mr. Singh mysteriously escaped. Meanwhile the second Sikh had reached England to make arrangements for Mr. Singh. When Mr. Singh arrived the British officials, after hearing deported him to New Delhi where he was promptly arrested.
An Indian diplomat with intelligence background said in an interview that the two men who lured Mr. Singh from Dubai were Indian agents, but denied that Mr. Ghuman was one of them. Mr. Ghuman says he approached Mr.Singh in Dubai but was censored for trying to set up the International Federation. India paid Philippines Security Official 100,000 dollars to have Mr. Singh sent to England he says. Mr. Ghuman says he is accused of being the man who fingered Mr. Singh in England, he denies this and says that the accusation comes from jealous rivals who feared his group was becoming too powerful. The man who escaped in the Philippines is believed to be a youth Federation member who deals with the media in Vancouver. He has applied for a refugee claim under an assumed name, Sikh sources and the Indian diplomat say. In Canada Mr. Ghuman convinced Mr. Bhindranwale’s nephew Lakhbir Singh to become the convener of the youth federation. He says that he fled to Canada from England last February extradition to India. Canada does not have extradition treaty with India. He was sponsored to Canada as a Priest by the people connected with Akali Dal, the Sikh Party currently ruling Punjab that has signed a peace agreement with the Indian government. His sponsorship was later cancelled but Mr. Ghuman married a Canadian citizen before he was asked to leave. He now lives in Vancouver, making speeches at the Ross Street Temple in Van couver and at Temples in Toronto.
Article extracted from this publication >> November 29, 1985