Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Tuesday accused Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu of misleading people about Pakistan’s alleged assurance on allowing Sikh pilgrims direct access to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, along the India-Pakistan border, next year. The gurdwara is currently built on the site where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, died on September 22, 1539.
Sidhu was criticised for hugging Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa during Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony in August. The cricketer-turned politician had justified it, claiming Bajwa had assured him that the Kartarpur passage would be opened for pilgrims.
“When he [Sidhu] returned he was shown black flags, everyone was angry that he went there and hugged someone who kills our people,” Harsimrat Kaur Badal said. “Instead of apologising, he played with people’s sentiments...He said he hugged general as he said Kartarpur corridor will be opened.”
The Union minister said a week had passed but neither the Pakistani government nor Sidhu have produced any document on the matter. “I wrote to the external affairs minister that it is being portrayed that the Pakistan government gave a green signal over Kartarpur corridor and our government is doing nothing from its side,” Badal said. “Was shocked when received letter from her [Sushma Swaraj] stating there is nothing like that. Pakistan government never communicated anything on this.”
The Shiromani Akali Dal leader asked Congress President Rahul Gandhi if Sidhu had gone to “an enemy nation, betrayed our people amd played with the sentiments of the Sikhs” with his blessings. “Will you take action against him or are you hand in glove with him?” she Gandhi.
“I think he [Sidhu] is a new agent that Pakistan has found and they are using him as a puppet and he is dancing to their tune,” Badal alleged. “Let him dance and deliver to our people.” She also claimed Sidhu was reprimanded by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, when he met her on Monday.
On Monday, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh also said India had not yet received any proposal from Pakistan on opening the Kartarpur border crossing. “Nothing has come from the government’s [Pakistan] side,” he added. “This issue has been going on for a very long time.”
In a press conference, Sidhu said he has written to Sushma Swaraj, whom he met Monday, and requested her to send a formal request to the government of Pakistan on the matter, ANI reported. Sidhu claimed that Swaraj told him that the draft of an agreement with Pakistan was being prepared and that she would write a letter to the Pakistan government.