A video song released by the Pakistan government welcoming Sikh pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib has created a controversy as it has pictures of three Khalistani separatist leaders, including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the background in one part of the clip.
The video, released by Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Monday, has posters of Bhindranwale, Major General Shabeg Singh and Amrik Singh Khalsa, all of whom were killed during Indian Army’s Operation Blue Star at the Golden Temple in Amritsar in June 1984.
Bhindranwale was the head of Sikh religious sect Damdami Taksal. Singh was an Indian Army general, who joined the Khalistani movement in 1984 after he was stripped of his rank and court-martialled on charges of corruption just before his retirement. Khalsa was a Khalistani student leader who headed the now-banned All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSD).
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had raised concerns that Pakistan could use misuse the corridor to revive Sikh militancy in Punjab. Several Indian intelligence agencies and experts have also questioned Pakistan’s intentions of opening the route.
A fringe Khalistani group based in the US called ‘Sikhs for Justice’ is attempting to promote the so-called ‘Referendum 2020’ movement by using the corridor with tacit support from Pakistan’s spy agency ISI.
The video has surfaced just days before the Kartarpur Corridor is slated to be inaugurated. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the corridor on the Indian side on November 8, his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan will open the route on the other side the following day.
India and Pakistan had, on October 24, signed an agreement on the modalities for operationalising Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, paving the way for its inauguration ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib.
The route will connect Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district with Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan.