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 rejected the allegations on Tuesday. Around 20,000 Sikh pilgrims from across the globe, including more than 2,000 from India, are currently in Pakistan for the Baisakhi celebrations.
In a statement, Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal 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 here on Monday to protest the reported display of inflammatory posters and statements displayed at holy shrines and places in Pakistan which the pilgrims are visiting from April 12 to 21.
Meanwhile, images of posters reportedly displayed at Gurdwara Panja Sahib, seeking “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 recent or an old one.
Chawla is the secretary general of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC). 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 over the matter earlier also, but Pakistan claimed the advice was issued following agitated sentiments over the release of controversial film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’.
“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,” the Pakistani spokesperson said on Tuesday, asking India “to respect all religions, especially minorities, and refrain from indulging in pointless provocation”.
ISI behind ‘Sikh 2020 referendum’: Police
- Chandigarh: Punjab Police officials believe Pakistan has exposed itself by allowing organisations there to organise support for the “Sikh 2020 referendum” and highlight the demand for Khalistan before Sikh pilgrims on its soil.
- Sources in the intelligence agencies and Police Department said they had been maintaining for long that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was behind the Sikh 2020 referendum.
- “We have information that the PSGPC, ISI and some radical groups, including the one led by wanted terrorist Happy PhD, have ganged up to incite communal and anti-India sentiments,” said an official requesting anonymity. TNS
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