Never knew who Chawla was: SGPC chief on photo with Khalistani leader

Chawla’s selfie with Longowal surfaced after leaders of the Akali Dal and the BJP had criticised Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu over his photo with Chawla which had also gone viral.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2018 22:14 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Kartarpur,Kartarpur corridor,SGPC
Attari: Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Gobind Singh Longowal with SGPC members return after attending the groundbreaking ceremony for Kartarpur Corridor, at the India-Pakistan Wagah Post, about 35km from Amritsar, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (PTI Photo) (PTI)

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal , whose selfie with Pakistan-based Khalistani leader Gopal Singh Chawla has gone viral on social media, on Friday said he never knew who Chawla was.

Chawla, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) general secretary, clicked the selfie with Longowal during the groundbreaking ceremony of the corridor being constructed from Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur in Pakistan to Dera Baba Nanak in India. The corridor will provide Indian devotees access to the shrine, the last resting place of Guru Nanak. Chawla sat with Longowal as well.

Interacting with media at the Attari-Wagah border post after returning to India from his Pakistan visit, Longowal said that he did not know who sat with him. “There were large number of devotees at the ceremony and we did not know all. Secondly, the seats were allotted by the government and we could not move to any other seat. If I would do, it would have violation of the fixed protocol”, he said.

Chawla’s selfie with Longowal surfaced after leaders of the Akali Dal and the BJP had criticised Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu over his photo with Chawla which had also gone viral. Sidhu also denied knowing Chawla, while adding thousands of photos of him had been clicked during his visit.

Longowal also disclosed that he visited many historic Sikh shrines in Pakistan but found them in bad shape. “These shrines are in very bad state and the heritage structures are dilapidated. The local people have encroached on the historical buildings and land. I have planned another visit to Pakistan January 13 next year to take up the matter on government level and with the officials of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) representatives”, he said.

“My visit would be to ensure that the encroachments are removed and old glory and sanctity of the gurdwaras are restored,” he added.

First Published: Nov 30, 2018 22:14 IST