|P - 1
|The main interest in visiting Ecuador was
to check on the so called formation of Khalistan Head Quarters
in Quito in 1985. The address given in various Gurdwara web
sites is "Khalistan Council,Khalistan House P O Box 193-C
Quito, Ecuador Tel: 458 799". KC is non existent. Enquiries
with the Ministry of External Affairs in Quito met with a complete
surprise. They agreed to look up old files in the archives.
The search did not show up any correspondence on the subject
between their representative in India and the Ministry in Quito
during this period. However there were some indirect reference
on the subject between Ecuador's Ambassador in London and their
Ministry in Quito.
An internet version states that on October 3, 1985, an Embassy
of Khalistan was established in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.
About 70 officials of the Ecuador participated in the inauguration
ceremony. This Embassy was called Casa de Khalistan (Khalistan
House). Bhai Balbir Singh Nijjar of Toronto was appointed the
Ambassador. Passports of Government of Khalistan in Exile were
also issued. According to the Indian Government sources, Indo-Ecuadorian
relations suffered a jolt in July 1985 when, during the height
of terrorism in the Punjab, news about Ecuador granting recognition
to the so-called ‘Khalistan’ came to light. A high
level delegation from Ecuador that included a former President
of the country who was also the chairman of the ruling party
held discussions in London with various self proclaimed ‘Khalistani’
leaders and allegedly offered to give agricultural land and
settlement to apparent ‘Khalistani refugees’ in
exchange for substantial financial inducement. However, on account
of diplomatic pressure from India, President León Febres
Cordero formally announced within a few days that the team that
had met with ‘Khalistani’ leaders was a private
delegation and that there was no official support to the idea.
Relations since then have been normal and cordial between India
and Ecuador. Another uncorroborated version is that Indian Govt
sent its commandos, with Ecuador Govt’s concurrence, to
get the Sikhs to move out from Quito. This story seems a bit
unlikely. At present there are hardly any Sikh immigrants. Inquiries
with them could not throw any light on the subject.
Various web sites mention that Sikhs from countries whose nationals
do not require visa but who belong to Sikh religion do have
to apply for a visa. This needs to be set right. In my own case,
Ecuador Embassy insisted on police clearance but (as a saving
grace), I am told this procedure applies to all Indians visiting
Ecuador. It was intriguing to say the least to hear from some
Sikh immigrants that once a person arrives in Ecuador getting
a residence permit is not difficult (probably if one is not
wearing a turban). Ecuadorians are quite friendly but opportunities
for jobs and business seem to be some what limited.