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Posted at: Apr 17, 2018, 5:49 PM; last updated: Apr 17, 2018, 5:49 PM (IST)

Pak rejects allegations of inciting Sikh pilgrims

Pak rejects allegations of inciting Sikh pilgrims
Sikh pilgrims march during the Baisakhi festival, at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, 50 km from Islamabad, on April 14. AP/PTI file

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 17

A day after India lodged a strong protest against alleged incitement of Sikh pilgrims on the issue of Khalistan, Pakistan categorically rejected the allegations. 

Around 20,000 Sikh pilgrims from across the globe, including more than 2,000 from India, are currently in Pakistan for Baishakhi celebrations. Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal in a statement said, "India has chosen to deliberately stoke further controversy around the visit of Sikh pilgrims, currently attending the Baisakhi and Khalsa Janamdin ceremonies in Pakistan."

India summoned the Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner in Delhi on Monday to protest reported display of inflammatory posters and statements at holy shrines and places in Pakistan where the pilgrims are visiting from April 12 to 21.

Meanwhile, images of posters reportedly displayed at Gurdwara Panja Sahib seeking a '2020 referendum for Khalistan' emerged along with photos of Sikh leader Gopal Singh Chawla meeting terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed in Lahore. However, it is not known if the meeting is a recent or an old one.

Read: Hard evidence emerges of Pakistans support to Sikh militants

Chawla is currently the secretary general of PSGPC (Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee). The PSGPC along with the government statutory body ETPB (Evacuee Trust Property Board) reportedly stopped Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria from meeting the pilgrims on April 14. India had protested the same earlier but Pakistan claimed the advice was issued following agitated sentiments over release of controversial film 'Nanak Shah Fakir' among some sections. 

"Indian attempts to distort the truth and obfuscate facts are unethical and regrettable. It is ironic that the country whose highest officials are on record for statements against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan choose to indulge in blatant hypocrisy by twisting facts," added the Pakistani spokesperson today, asking India to respect all religions, especially minorities, and refrain from indulging in pointless provocation.

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