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Margaret Thatcher wanted to prosecute Jagjit Singh Chauhan after assassination of Indira Gandhi, reveals declassified documents

July 16, 2015 | By

London: Government documents made by public by the U.K. government reveal that Margaret Thatcher wanted to prosecute Jagjit Singh Chauhan after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

“Prosecutors were pressed by Margaret Thatcher to bring charges against a British-based Sikh nationalist accused of inciting the assassination of Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, according to secret government papers”, reports The Independent.

The documents reveal that diplomats had warned that Britain’s relations with India were in danger of melting down over the presence on UK soil of Jagjit Singh Chauhan.

Margaret Thatcher (L) and Indira Gandhi (R) [File Photo]

Margaret Thatcher (L) and Indira Gandhi (R) [File Photo]

Documents released at the National Archives in Kew, west London, reveal how Mrs Thatcher became exasperated after police and prosecutors insisted there were no grounds for prosecuting Jagjit Singh Chauhan despite his utterances against Indira Gandhi.

“The death of Mrs Gandhi in October 1984, some four months after Mr Chauhan had predicted her death in a BBC Newsnight interview, provoked a furious reaction in Delhi, particularly among the inner circle of her son and successor as Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi”, The Independent notes.

“Sir Robert Wade-Gery, the British High Commissioner in India, cabled London to warn that Mr Gandhi faced a high risk of being assassinated himself and such a fate would have grim consequences for the UK’s interests in the Sub-Continent”.

The diplomat wrote: “If this happens while we are still tolerating Chauhan, the effect on all our interests here could catastrophic. Lives and property could be lost as well as contracts and influence.”

With Jagjit Singh Chauhan continuing to insist Mrs Gandhi had deserved to die, Mrs Thatcher asked to review the Home Office file on the activist. Her private secretary Charles Powell wrote: “She does not see how Chauhan can evade the charge of inciting to violence simply by saying he is not doing so… The Prime Minister is of the view that the Law Officers might with advantage study the papers once more.”

No prosecution followed but Jagjit Singh Chauhan received an official warning that his utterances should remain within the bounds of the law.

Notably Indira Ghandi, the then prime minister of India was assassinated on 31st October, 1984. She was responsible for ordering brutal army attack on Darbar Sahib (Amritsar) and other Sikhs Gurdwaras in Punjab and adjoining states in June 1984. The army attack of 1984, in which thousands of Sikhs were massacred by the Indian army, is remembered as ‘Third Ghallughara’ (holocaust) of Sikh history.

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