Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday lashed out at Islamabad over a video clip that featured Khalistani separatists, saying this showed Pakistan’s hidden agenda in opening the Kartarpur corridor.
The video was released by Pakistan on Monday just days ahead of the inauguration of the corridor that will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan.
The clip also showed a poster of a banned pro-Khalistani group, Sikhs for Justice, which is pushing for Sikh Referendum 2020 as part of its separatist agenda.
Commenting on the video clip, Singh told reporters, “All this is what I have been saying from day one, that Pakistan has a hidden agenda here.”
Later, in a strongly-worded statement, he warned against the “agenda” of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence behind Islamabad’s decision to allow access to the Sikh shrine through the corridor across the border.
“Even though the corridor marked the realisation of the long-cherished dream of the entire Sikh community, including me, to pay respects at the historic shrine, India cannot afford to ignore the ISI threat that was attached to it,” he said.
“This is what I have been cautioning against all along, they (the ISI) have a negative agenda behind it. We have to be very careful,” he said.
The video, he said, only exposed the true intent of the ISI.
“On the one hand, they are seemingly showing us compassion and humanity, and on the other, they seem intent on using the corridor to woo the Indian Sikhs to promote the ISI-backed 2020 Khalistan Referendum and creating sleeper cells here,” he added.
Three Sikh separatist leaders, including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his military adviser Shabeg Singh, who were killed during the Operation Blue Star in 1984 feature in the video released by the Pakistan government.
The chief minister also attacked Shiromani Akali Dal leaders for allegedly playing into the hands of the ISI with their “politically motivated comments” on the Kartarpur corridor issue.
He was reacting to SAD president Sukhbir Badal and former state minister Bikram Majithia comments accusing him of trying to sabotage the corridor by talking about an alleged ISI game plan.
“They cannot see beyond their petty political interests,” Amarinder Singh added.
“If there’s anyone trying to sabotage the corridor, it is the ISI. But instead of targeting the ISI, they persistently attack me,” he said.
“By choosing to ignore the ISI threat and trying to mislead the people of Punjab with provocative statements against their own government, these Akali leaders were actually taking forward the ISI agenda of dividing the Sikh community,” he added.
“The ISI had been trying to divide the Sikh community to promote Referendum 2020, and the Akali leaders were actually helping their cause by giving such provocative statements,” he alleged.