Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu Thursday outright denied recognising the pro-Khalistan separatist leader who was allegedly seen attending the Kartarpur Sahib stone laying foundation ceremony. Reacting to questions on him being seen in pictures with the Khalistani leader, Sidhu told ANI, “There were probably 5-10,000 pictures taken of and with me there(in Pakistan), I don’t know who is Gopal Chawla.”
Chawla, the general secretary of Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee, had shared his purported photograph with Sidhu on his Facebook page.
The Akali Dal immediately attacked Sidhu in a scathing remark asking whether ‘India is his priority or not’. SAD President Sukhbir Badal told PTI, “There was a link between Gopal Chawla and a terrorist attack that took place in Amritsar (on Nirankari Bhavan), which is his (Sidhu’s) constituency. If he shakes hands with him or do something with him, then Sidhu has to answer in order to clear whether country is his priority or something else.”
Immediately, Congress leader Rak Kumar Verka lashed out at SAD for slamming Sidhu and not taking action against Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee chief Gobind Singh Longowal, whose photograph with Chawla has also appeared on social media.
“I feel Sukhbir Badal, Badal family and BJP is suffering from Sidhu phobia. I think they chant Sidhu’s name more than Baba (Guru) Nanak Dev,” said Verka. “Longowal knows Chawla very well. He knows Chawla is a member of (Pakistan) Gurdwara committee. He also knows Chawla is our country’s enemy. Despite this, Longowal posed with Chawla for a picture. Sidhu even does not know about Chawla,” claimed Verka.