Former Indian batsman and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has once landed in controversy after a photo of him along with Pro-Khalistan activists Gopal Singh Chawla surfaced on social media.
According to reports, Chawla is said to be a close aide of Hafiz Saeed, posted his photo with the Punjab minister on his Facebook page, triggering another round of barbs at Navjot Sidhu and his Pakistan visit to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor.
Reacting to his photo, the ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reacted sharply and said, “Such malicious tactics on Pakistani soil cannot be ignored,” said Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. The Minister also requested Congress leader to keep distance in such meetings.
Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was also seen greeting Chawla warmly on the sidelines of the function on Wednesday.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s comments at the event on peace efforts and resolving the Kashmir issue have angered India. Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur, who also attended the ceremony, took a swipe at Sidhu on his bonhomie with the Pak prime minister.
“He offered to have him (Navjot Singh Sidhu) fight elections from Pakistan. Sidhu seems to have more love and respect in Pakistan than what I noticed over here. He has some good relationships over there,” Badal told news agency ANI.
Chawla, who heads the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, recently provoked anger in India when he stopped Indian officials from visiting a Gurudwara in Lahore to meet Sikh pilgrims from India.
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’s name cropped up during investigations into a grenade attack earlier this month at the Nirankari Bhawan in Amritsar in which three were killed.