With Navjot Singh Sidhu facing criticism after a prominent pro-Khalistan separatist leader Gopal Singh Chawla shared his purported photograph with the Punjab Cabinet minister on social media, Sidhu on Thursday said he doesn’t recognise the separatist leader who was allegedly seen attending the Kartarpur Sahib stone laying foundation ceremony in Pakistan.

“There were probably five to ten thousand pictures taken of and with me there (in Pakistan), I don’t know who is Gopal Chawla,” Sidhu said after returning from the neighbouring country. Gopal Singh Chawla, the general secretary of Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (PSGPC), shared the photograph on his Facebook page on Thursday.

Chawla was also seen shaking hands with Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the ground-breaking ceremony of Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan on Wednesday.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), however, asked Sidhu if “India is his priority” or not. “There was a link between Gopal Chawla and a terrorist attack that took place in Amritsar (on Nirankari Bhavan), which is his (Sidhu’s) constituency. If he shakes hands with him or do (does) something with him, then Sidhu has to answer in order to clear whether country is his priority or something else,” SAD president Sukhbir Badal said.

The Akali leader said Sidhu should have known that Pakistan has been involved in pushing drugs into Punjab. “It is Gen Bajwa who is behind killing our youth with whom he shakes hands.”

Taking a swipe at the Congress president, Badal said Rahul Gandhi had a “very good opportunity” to expand his party to Pakistan by making Sidhu the chief of the party’s unit there.

Earlier, Union minister and SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal expressed her displeasure over Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu hugging the Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Jawed Bajwa. “Sidhu was hugging the General who is killing our men, ” she said adding that Sidhu has become a Pakistani agent and Congress president Rahul Gandhi should clear his stand on the issue.

Harsimrat said Sidhu receives more love in Pakistan than in India.
Defending Sidhu, Congress leader Raj Kumar Verka, however, slammed the SAD for attacking the Punjab minister while no action is being taken against the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Gobind Singh Longowal, whose photograph with Chawla has also appeared on social media.
“I feel Sukhbir Badal, Badal family and BJP is suffering from Sidhu phobia.

I think they chant Sidhu’s name more than Baba (Guru) Nanak Dev,” said Verka.
“Longowal knows Chawla very well. He knows Chawla is a member of (Pakistan) Gurdwara committee.

He also knows Chawla is our country’s enemy. Despite this, Longowal posed with Chawla for a picture. Sidhu even does not know about Chawla,” he further claimed.  Verka asked Badal whether he would seek resignation of Longowal as SGPC chief.