Navjot Singh Sidhu’s advisor stirs controversy after 'Kashmir a separate country' statement
One of the advisors to Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, Malwinder Singh Mali sparked a controversy after he claimed that Kashmir was a separate country and both India and Pakistan were illegal inhabitants.
In a tweet, Malwinder Singh Mali stated,“Kashmir is a separate country and India and Pakistan are illegal occupants. It belongs to the people of Kashmir.”
The post has drawn heavy criticism from various quarters, both within and outside the Congress.
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Majithia said Malwinder’s tweet was an effort to insult martyrs who had given their lives fighting for India in Kashmir.
"He [Mali] said that Kashmir is the country of Kashmiris, which means Kashmir is a separate country. He also said that India and Pakistan have illegally encroached upon Kashmir. Rahul Gandhi, is this not an insult to martyrs?” SAD leader said.
“If he [Rahul Gandhi] endorses Mali's views, then the real face of the Congress will be exposed. If not, what action will he take against Mali?” he added.
Furthermore, the SAD leader said, “While Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has been accusing Pakistan of disturbing the peace in Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu is hugging Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party also criticized Malwinder Singh Mali for his controversial statement and called for action against him.
BJP’s Vineet Joshi asserted that Navjot Singh Sidhu’s appointment of Mali as his advisor points to where he was headed in political discourse.
"Many Army and allied forces personnel, besides the Jammu and Kashmir police, have sacrificed their lives to save Kashmir from Pakistan-sponsored terrorists. A number of martyrs belong to Punjab. Mali is trying to shrink the supreme sacrifices made by these martyrs," Vineet Joshi said.
Vineet Joshi also went on to call Navjot Singh Sidhu an “unstable politician”.
"BJP gave him a political identity. His wife was given a party ticket and then he switched his loyalties and joined Congress. The infighting within the Punjab Congress unit is the outcome of the unfulfilled political ambitions of Navjot Sidhu. He can go to any length and now he is trying to sprinkle salt on the wounds of martyrs’ families," Vineet Joshi stated.
BJP has also raised question on Navjot Singh Sidhu’s silence on the matter as well as the vandalisation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s statue in Lahore for the third time during Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s term..
"Sidhu has a soft corner for Pakistan. His controversial hugs with Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa are still fresh in the minds of the people. Sidhu lives in India but his mind is somewhere else," BJP leader said.
While Sidhu has continued to ramain mum on the issue, a close aid of the Punjab chief minister and Punjab government spokesperson Raj Kumar Verka lambasted Mali for his tweet. He advised Mali not to spread hatred.
"I think the issue of Kashmir is very sensitive and one should avoid commenting on it like this. This has hurt the sentiments of the people of this country. I don't know Malwinder Mali and in what context he issued this statement but he should speak within limits. Fostering brotherhood and patriotism is good but earning hatred is bad," Congress leader Raj Kumar Verka said.
So far Malwinder Singh Mali has not responded to any criticism of his tweet.