NEW DELHI India has conveyed to Pakistan that Sikh pilgrims visiting that country are regularly subjected to anti-India propaganda and Khalistan agenda and elements based there burn the tricolour to hurt their sentiments.
In a dossier given to Pakistan, New Delhi also said a federal minister of Pakistan even eulogised slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and told the Sikh pilgrims in an address that Sikhs and Kashmiris are treated like “slaves” by the Indian government.
The four annual Indian Sikh ‘Jathas’ that visit important gurdwaras in Pakistan every year under the bilateral Protocol to visit Religious Shrines, 1974, have been regularly subjected to anti-India propaganda during their visit against the spirit of the visit and in complete subversion of the objectives of the bilateral arrangement, the 23-page dossier, accompanied by pictures, said.
The dossier, presented to Pakistan during the recently-concluded bilateral meeting on the Kartarpur Sahib corridor held in Wagah, has in its cover a picture of former general secretary of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee Gopal Singh Chawla burning the Indian flag.
“Unfortunately, a large part of this propaganda is perpetuated during the religious functions organised by Evacuee Trust Property Board, Pakistan and the forum has been exploited to promote the agenda of Khalistan instead of focusing on the religious discourse,” it said.
Some blatant instances of such anti-India propaganda during the visits of Indian Jathas in the recent years were also narrated in the dossier, accessed by PTI.
The dossier gives details of several pro-Khalistan groups, including Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), operating freely in Pakistan. The SFJ was recently banned by India.
The dossier also contains picture of Chawla’s meeting with Lashkar-e-Taiba founder and Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed.
In 2016, during the Guru Nanak Dev Ji anniversary, Sardar Mohammad Yousuf, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Harmony, in his address at the main function in Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, eulogised Burhan Wani and alleged that the Sikhs and Kashmiris are treated like “slaves” by the Indian government, the dossier said.
In the same meeting where the Pakistan federal minister spoke, Chawla raised the demand of Khalistan and even advocated violent means to achieve it.
Chawal asked the Indian Sikh pilgrims to revolt against the Supreme Court’s decision in inter-state water agreement involving Punjab and raised anti-India slogans from the dias.
During the ‘Nagar Kirtan’ on November 14, 2016, a pro-Khalistan group carried banners depicting photographs of Sikh militants Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and Subheg Singh and pro-Khalistan literature was openly distributed.
Pro-Khalistan radical Sikhs had set up the usual Khalistan stage at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib on November 14, 2016 and several speakers, including Chawla criticised Indian government and raised the demand for creation of Khalistan.
A seminar was organised on November 18 at Lahore on contentious ‘Nanakshahi’ calendar where speakers accused India of not protecting the interests of Sikhs and Muslims and extended their full support to militancy in Kashmir.
“Attempts were made to instigate the Sikh pilgrims against Indian government over the issues like demonetisation, denial of permission for unauthorised ‘Sarbat Khalsa’, inter-state dispute involving Punjab and creation of Khalistan,” the dossier said.
During the pilgrimage in November 2016, one Jagroop Singh alias Rupa instigated youths to carry out terror attacks in India.
In April 2017, during ‘Baisakhi jathas’, UK-based pro-Khalistan element Manmohan Singh Bajaj was allowed to address the pilgrims in Gurdwara Panja Sahib where he raised pro-Khalistan slogans and unequivocally stated that he was fighting for the cause of Khalistan.
During the main function, many posters of secessionist campaign ‘Referendum 2020’, ‘Get Ready For Referendum 2020’ were permitted to be prominently displayed at the premises of Panja Sahib gurdwara and Bhindranwale’s posters with slogans like ‘Be Khalsa, Get Khalistan’ were displayed.
During the birth anniversary celebration of Guru Nanak Dev in November 2017, pro-Khalistan posters and banners were openly and prominently displayed at various gurdwaras wherever the pilgrims visited.
Pro-Khalistan elements active outside India had set up a ‘Khalistan stage’ at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib on November 4, 2017 and US-based pro-Khalistan element Pritpal Singh intigated the Sikh pilgrims present at Gurdwara Janam Asthan, Nankana Sahib to make efforts for the formation of Khalistan.
During the pilgrimage on ‘Baisakhi’ in April 2018, UK-based pro-Khalistan element Avtar Singh Sanghera and US-based pro-Khalistan element Pritpal Singh were allowed to campaign for Khalistan from the dias of the main function at gurdwara Panja Sahib.
During the ‘Bhog’ ceremony at Nankana Sahib on death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in June 2018, Chawla in his address openly extended support to Indian Sikh community and Kashmiris to form Khalistan and also get independent or ‘Azad’ Kashmir respectively.
The dossier also include social media pages of some of the Pakistani Sikh leaders who posted messages like ‘Khalsa Khalistan Da, Kashmir Pakistan Da’, videos like ‘Kahmir Banega Pakistan’ and anti-India messages.