New Delhi: It’s two for two for Navjot Singh Sidhu who has landed in yet another controversy on his second visit to Pakistan since September. This time, the Congress leader has been posing with Sikh militant Gopal Singh Chawla for a photo which has been uploaded by the latter on social media.
Chawla, a pro-Khalistani militant whose involvement is suspected in the recent attack on a Nirankari gathering in Amritsar, was among those invited for the Kartarpur ground-breaking ceremony in Pakistan. His presence, along with that of Pakistani army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, at the civilian event came as a last-minute surprise for India which had sent two Union ministers. Sidhu was present in his personal capacity.
Speaking to CNN-News18 on Thursday over his photo with Sidhu, Chawla said, “What is the big deal in this? I don't know why I am dragged into everything. Why such links are created…. I have no intention of creating any terror.”
Chawla is the general secretary of the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (PSGPC) and is known as a pro-Khalistan voice. His name was recently linked by intelligence agencies to the attack on Nirankari Bhawan in Amritsar, in which three people were killed. Officials had said Chawla was in contact with ISI and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed to hatch a terror plot, and agencies had also acquired a photo of a meeting between Chawla and Saeed.
Chawla was also involved in pasting photos of ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’ outside gurdwaras in Pakistan when Sikh pilgrims from India visited the neighbouring country on Baisakhi.
Asked about his presence in Kartarpur, a Pakistani official said, “Gopal Singh Chawla is a senior leader of the PSGPC, and he is invited to all events involving the Sikh community.”
"Indian media taking a myopic view is selectively showing Mr Gopal Chawla meeting COAS. Army Chief met all guests at the venue irrespective of identity. A peace initiative should not be subjected to propaganda," ISPR DG Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted.
Indian media taking a myopic view is selectively showing Mr. Gopal Chawla meeting COAS. Army Chief met all guests at the venue irrespective of identity. A peace initiative should not be subjected to propaganda. @IndiaToday pic.twitter.com/NMkQ17PhKn— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) November 28, 2018
Sources said Singh was instrumental in denying access to Indian High Commission officials to two gurudwaras in Pakistan a few days ago. The officials had gone to the gurudwaras to meet Indian pilgrims. India had slammed Pakistan for refusing access to the pilgrims.
(With PTI inputs)