Under fire for comments on Pulwama attack, Navjot Singh Sidhu ‘reminds’ BJP of Kandahar
Getting flak for his comments in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, Punjab minister for local bodies and tourism Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday hit out at the BJP by reminding it of the release of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar 20 years ago during the Kandahar standoff in 1999. The minister also sought exemplary action against those behind terrorist activities.
“Those who are branding me as anti-national should tell the people as to who had handed him (Massod) over to Pakistan. What they (BJP) had been doing all these years to get at him”, he asked.
He said his statement had been distorted by people with vested interests. “Nationalism is the highest religion and I stand by my nation”, he said. “I echo the sentiments of my country. India’s voice is my voice and I strongly stand by my party’s stand”, he added.
Reiterating his stand, he said, “Innocent people, women, children, elders should not be punished for the acts of a handful of rogue elements. This is against the teachings of the Sikh gurus and humanitarian law. At the same time, I call for exemplary punishment to the perpetrators of the attack”.
“If you have the guts, bring the guilty back and hang him publically,” he said. “India’s peace and development should not suffer a set back because of a handful of terrorists,” he added.
In the aftermath of the terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama last week, Sidhu had said that “for a handful people, you cannot blame an entire nation.”
Will not be cowed down’
Reacting to BJP’s protest on his arrival in the city on Sunday, he said that he was not the one to be cowed down by such acts.
“These are dirty tactics to deter me from campaigning in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Such things have happened in the past but every time I came out even stronger,” he remarked.
Meanwhile a major showdown was averted by the police by intercepting BJP workers who wanted to protest outside zila parishad office where Sidhu had to address a public meeting.
A large number of Congress workers had also gathered outside the venue to counter the demonstrators.
Slogan raising BJP workers were packed off to a distant place in a police bus and were released after Sidhu’s departure. Police personnel had barricaded the area not allowing even the normal traffic to pass through.
‘Never said anything in favour of terrorism’
In another event at Dinanagar in Gurdaspur, he said that the clamour by his opponents over his statement on the incident is politically motivated, and he had not said anything in favour of terrorism.
He, however, evaded queries when asked if there was Pakistan’s hand in the Pulwama IED blast, which claimed lives of 40 CRPF jawans.
Sidhu also rubbished the ‘rumours’ that he has been asked by the Sony TV to leave The Kapil Sharma Show. He said that he had not received any communique in this regard and added that he is still very much part of the comedy show.
Sidhu also visited the house of CRPF jawan Maninder Singh, who was martyred in Thursday’s terrorist attack, in Dinanagar and extended his sympathy to the members of the bereaved family. He said that Maninder and his other colleagues had sacrificed their lives for the country and the whole nation stands by their families in this hour of crisis.
Later, Sidhu laid foundation down stones for Rs 36-crore sewerage treatment plant and development works of sewerage and water supply near Daburji village in Dinanagar.
Sidhu informed the locals that the state government will be spending a sum of Rs 100 crore to give a face lift to Dinanagar.
Punjab transport minister and Dinanagar MLA Aruna Chaudhary, former Gurdaspur district Congress committee president Ashok Chaudhary and officers from the sewerage and water supply department were also present.