The Goa unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, on Wednesday burnt an effigy of Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for hugging the Pakistani Army chief during his visit to Islamabad last week.

Sidhu, a former cricketer, was in Islamabad on August 18 to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan as the country’s prime minister. He has since been hugely criticised for attending the ceremony, hugging Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and being seated next to Masood Khan, the president of an area in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir that Islamabad calls “Azaad Jammu and Kashmir”.

Around 50 workers gathered outside the Congress office in Panaji and shouted slogans against Sidhu. “The effigy was burnt to condemn the anti-nationalist act of Sidhu, who hugged Pakistan Army chief,” BJYM’s Goa unit General Secretary Gajanan Tilve said. “This is the same Army chief who orders killing of our Indian soldiers along the border. How can any patriotic Indian hug him? Sidhu has clearly showed his anti-national mindset.”

Tilve added: “We cannot tolerate his behaviour during the ceremony. If the Congress has even a little bit of patriotism in it, then the party should immediately remove him as Punjab minister.”

Sidhu has defended his actions, saying the hug was an emotional reaction after the general told him that Pakistan may allow Sikh pilgrims direct access to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur next year. The gurdwara at present is built on the site where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, died on September 22, 1539.

He also asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not questioned for hugging former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during an unscheduled visit to Lahore in 2015.

On Monday, a lawyer filed a sedition case against the Congress leader in the court of Muzaffarpur’s chief judicial magistrate.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said those opposing Sidhu’s actions were “doing a great disservice to peace in the subcontinent”. Without peace the people of the two countries cannot progress, he said.