LONDON, England: A number of Sikh militants have sought asylum in Britain, including those wanted for trial in Indian courts, their applications are under consideration of the Government here, informed sources said.

The British Home Office on Wednesday confirmed that applications of 62 Indian nationals were still pending with it. But it declined to discuss if the applicants were Sikhs on the plea that it was concerned not with the religion but the nationality of the applicants.

Under the British law, asylum can be sought by those willing to go to their country on the grounds of well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular group or political opinions.

In 1986, the Home Office received 32 applications for asylum, out of which 18 were turned down and four of the applicants withdrew. At least 85 asylum applications were pending in 1984, but the figure now stood at 62.

One of the pending applications is from Mr. Surjan Singh Thekedar, a known Khalistani living in Britain. His application was turned down last year and his appeal against the refusal by the British government is yet to be heard. If his appeal is rejected, Mr. Thekedar will be left with no option but to leave Britain. It will be open for him to challenge the destination to which the British would deport him. Normally, the destination under the British law is the last station from where a person entered this country.

Mr. Jaswant Singh Bharj, a Dal Khalsa leader, against whom the Indian government is said to have registered a case, is also awaiting a response to his application. He came to Britain in 1982 and later applied for extension of stay in this country. He has been allotted a three bed room accommodation by the Conservative Party controlled.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 1, 1988