Congress leader and Punjab state minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday claimed that the comments he had made about the Pulwama attack the day before had been distorted.

“I was only saying that we need to find a permanent solution to the problem of terrorism,” he told reporters. “Why should soldiers be made to suffer each time? Such attacks have been happening for the last 70 years.”

On Friday, Sidhu had called the killing of 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel a “cowardly act” but had asked if an entire nation could be blamed for the actions of a handful of people. This was viewed as a defence of Pakistan and led to severe backlash.

The youth wing of Bharatiya Janata Party in Mumbai on Saturday protested outside the office of a television channel that airs a programme the Congress leader is a part of, PTI reported. They demanded his ouster from the show for allegedly siding with Pakistan.

“Terrorism has no religion or nationality,” the Punjab minister said on Saturday. “The best antidote to venom is venom, and this should be dealt in the same manner. What I actually said was that we should always be open to doing good, just as we should be open to crushing evil.”

Sidhu asked why better arrangements were not made to ensure the the soldiers’ safety. “When politicians come out, entire streets are blocked for their safety,” he said. “But when 3,000 jawans – the very people who protect us – are out on the streets, why is not their security a priority? They had been out since 3 am...why were they not airlifted?”

The Congress leader said the Pulwama attack should not affect India’s efforts to build the Kartarpur corridor. “Now, because of these three-four people [the militants], will we raise a question on the Kartarpur corridor?” he asked. “The nation cannot bow in front of terrorists.”

Sidhu was a key figure behind getting the two sides to agree on the project that will connect Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Punjab with the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of Pakistan’s Narowal district. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, died in Kartarpur in 1539. The corridor will allow Indian Sikh devotees to travel without visas to the pilgrimage site.