India and Pakistan deny, but for Shekhar Gupta, Sidhu is a ‘BJP bashing’ stick that must be maliciously used

In an article in The Print titled, “As if hounding Muslims wasn’t enough, BJP is now giving the same treatment to Sikhs”, Shekhar Gupta gives vent to his heart’s desire as he claims that the saffron party is now alienating Sikhs after Muslims. At best, the article is merely an elongated articulation of a misinformed opinion and t its worst, it could very well be an attempt to sow seeds of division within the country to serve the political interests of certain parties.

Gupta writes in the article, “If the borders were opened here, literally millions of Sikhs and Sindhis would go (to Gurudwara Shri Kartarpur Sahib) for just a few hours’ pilgrimages. This is what Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa promised Sidhu, who duly wrote to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to move it forward.” Funnily enough, both Pakistani and Indian authorities have refuted Sidhu’s claims and yet Shekhar Gupta perceives Sidhu’s words as gospel truth. Pakistan had denied Sidhu’s claims and said that there was a wide gulf between the two countries and the Kartarpur Sahib issue cannot be considered in isolation.

The Ministry of External Affairs has also clarified that Pakistan has neither initiated any formal correspondence on the issue of Kartarpur Sahib nor agreed to include Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara for Indian pilgrims under the bilateral protocol. Now, Pakistan has also come forward and stated that there has not been any formal communication on the matter.

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Quite clearly, Sidhu was either conned by his dear friends in Pakistan or he has concocted fiction out of thin air on the Kartarpur Sahib issue. However, his claims have been contradicted by authorities in India as well as in Pakistan. Under such circumstances, only a journalist who is more interested in peddling a certain narrative would take Sidhu’s words as gospel truth ignoring all the facts that point to the contrary.

The article states, “Now, calling the Indian Muslims names, raising questions on their patriotism is bad enough. But you think you can get away with giving the Sikhs the same treatment? And really, do you want to teach the Punjabis in general and Sikhs, in particular, the virtues of patriotism? You need to go see a shrink. A really good one.”

These are blatant biases of the author that twist his perception of reality far beyond what can be construed as efficient. The BJP has been attacking Navjot Singh Sidhu and the Congress party for making discredited claims about a Gurudwara as sacred to the Sikhs as the Kartarpur Sahib. It is unclear how exactly Gupta reaches the conclusion that the BJP is alienating Sikhs. At no point did the party denigrate the entire community or insult them or hurt their sentiments in any manner. Unless the author is suggesting that criticism of Sidhu is akin to criticizing the entire Sikh community, the article just does not make any sense.

The author warns BJP towards the end, “You are playing with fire that could burn you, and much else.” I wonder if Gupta is watching the same spectacle as everyone else. By all accounts, Sidhu’s trip to Pakistan, his hugging the Pakistani Army Chief and then making dubious claims about Kartarpur Sahib, all of it has been a complete disaster for the Congress party.

It is no secret that Pakistan uses fault lines within India to fan extremism. It is also no secret that Pakistan is spending a substantial lot in fanning not only Kashmiri separatism but also the Khalistan movement, both extremely detrimental to India’s interests. Given Pakistan’s ‘war by a 1000 cuts’ strategy, one truly wonders why Sidhu would fan controversy by evidently, lying blatantly. One also wonders why Shekhar Gupta would parrot the exact same lines that Pakistan wants to use to deepen the Indian faultlines.

“India is terrible to minorities” is a line that Pakistan would use to radicalise Kashmiri youth. “India is terrible to Sikhs” is an argument that Pakistan would use in its quest to fan the violent Khalistan movement. By peddling these two lines even after Sidhu’s assertions have been proven false not only by India but also Pakistan, serves nobody’s purpose. Not India’s, for sure. Why would Shekhar Gupta peddle this line of argument is anybody’s guess.

The article is really a word salad and the author ends up talking a lot and saying very little. It appears that the author was desperate to portray the BJP as anti-Sikhs. Bereft of any real opportunity to insinuate such a thing, he decided to interpret Sidhu’s political blunders as BJP’s antipathy towards the Sikh community.


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