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India lodges protest over Bhindranwale pic in video

THE ASIAN AGE. | VINEETA PANDEY
Published : Nov 7, 2019, 2:47 am IST
Updated : Nov 7, 2019, 3:04 am IST

India again on Wednesday sought to send an advance team to Kartarpur for security assessment of its VVIPs.

Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh
 Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh

New Delhi: Taking serious note of the official video released by Pakistan government on Kartarpur Corridor that carries photos of Khali-stani separatist leaders, including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, India on Wednesday lodged a strong protest and asked Pakistan to refrain from attempts to promote separatists and ferment trouble.

India also, while seeking permission for the visit of an advance team to assess the security assessment for both former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh who have Z-plus category security, categorically told Pakistan that no separatist elements should be seen with Indian dignitaries on the day of the inauguration.

Sources said that despite requests, Pakistan has not allowed an advance team from New Delhi to travel to Kartarpur, but officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad were on Wednesday given access to the site to make an assessment.

Pakistan has, however, assured that it will take care of India’s sensitivities and the security of all pilgrims, sources said.

Question are being raised on Pakistan’s intentions which, while talking about Kartarpur Corridor as a “goodwill gesture” has released a video that shows Sikh pilgrims visiting a gurdwara in Pakistan that has a poster of Bhindranwale, Major General Shabeg Singh and Amrik Singh Khalsa — three Khalistan separatists killed during Operation Blue Star in June 1984 — in the backdrop. Sources said that India will closely monitor the Kartarpur Corridor, as there is a feeling that Pakistan agenda is to ferment separatism and push anti-India propaganda.

Commenting on the visuals of Bhindranwale, Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh said, “All this is what I have been warning about since day one, that Pakistan has a hidden agenda here. On one side they show love, but on the other side they may try to create trouble. We have to be very careful.”

“The video raises doubts over Pakistan’s intention which has been promoting Kartarpur Corridor as a goodwill gesture. In the past too we have seen the presence of separatist elements like Gopal Chawla in the Kartarpur Corridor committees. India has shared specific terror threats and dossier with Pakistan. We have to wait and watch how Pakistan keeps its commitment,” sources said.

India has asked Pakistan to ensure that no embarrassment is caused to India or its dignitaries when they sit through the inauguration function in which Prime Minister Imran Khan will be present. It has also been communicated that no Khalistani or any other separatists groups, like Sikhs for Justice, or their representatives should be present around Indian political leaders.

“Learning by the past experience where we saw that once Pakistan PM left the venue, it was a free-for-all and all sorts of elements of Khalistan Liberation Force, Babbar Khalsa and Jaish-e-Mohammad were hanging around our dignitaries. We have told Pakistan this should not happen and it should ensure no one harms or embarrasses our dignitaries,” sources said.

India has sent a list of 550 dignitaries who will be travelling through the Kartarpur Corridor as part of the jatha on November 9. Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri are among the dignitaries who will be travelling through the corridor on inauguration day. In addition, about 100 more people — security and personal staff, doctors — will be travelling with these dignitaries.

India again on Wednesday sought to send an advance team to Kartarpur for security assessment of its VVIPs.

“We have been receiving concerns from the offices of dignitaries. We have projected the requirements for the security of our dignitaries to Pakistan. We have been telling Pakistan that we need to send an advance team since our former PM is going to Kartarpur. We explained to them that our former PM and Punjab CM have special security needs for which the nitty-gritty have to be worked out by our teams. Every one knows that Punjab CM has threats from various terror organisations and Dr Manmohan Singh has health issues. Today again we asked Pakistan to allow our teams. However, they allowed our team from Indian High Commission to visit Kartarpur,” sources said.

Sources added that the Indian government will convey its security assessment to the dignitaries and leave the decision on them whether they would still like to go to Kartarpur.

Meanwhile, the government has clarified that all political leaders travelling to Kartarpur Sahib through the Corridor or any other route would need a political clearance. This, however, does not apply to the first batch of 550 dignitaries who are travelling on November 9 as the official jatha.

Tags: amarinder singh, manmohan singh