On August 20, Sanjay Jaat, the president of Rashtriya Bajrang Dal’s Agra Unit in Uttar Pradesh offered Rs 5 lakh to anyone who brings the head of cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu. This came after the Congress Minister hugged the Pakistan Army Chief while attending fellow cricketer and the ‘Naya’ Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony.
On Saturday, former cricketer Imran Khan was sworn-in as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Indian former cricketer and Punjab Minister, Sidhu was the only Indian to attend Khan’s swearing-in ceremony where he was seen sitting next to PoK chief. In photos, he was also seen hugging Army Bajwa at the ceremony. As soon as the incident Sidhu became public, non-Congress parties, including BJP, called Sidhu’s actions shameful. The Congress, however, downplayed the matter. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala refused to comment on the matter.
A video has gone viral on social media in which Sanjay Jaat can be seen announcing a bounty of Rs five lakh (by holding a check) for someone who beheads Sidhu. Sanjay can also be heard reprimanding former cricketer and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for attending the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. He accused Sidhu of “betraying the country”.
According to The Asain Age, the Bajrang Dal member says that Sidhu, a Sikh, has forgotten the teachings of Guru Gobind Singh which says that a person of a particular community can never be trusted. He further said that he has banned Sidhu’s entry in Agra. He goes on to say that if ever Sidhu tries coming to Agra then the people of Agra will welcome him with shoes. The Bajrang Dal has demanded the termination of Sidhu’s membership from the Punjab Legislature.
Sidhu, a TV personality, is drawing flak from not just the Bajrang Dal members but also from the anonymous social media trollers and even by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for attending Pakistan’s newly appointed Prime Minister’s ceremony and also for hugging Pakistan’s Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa at the ceremony.
#WATCH: Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh reacts on #NavjotSinghSidhu hugging Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa during Pakistan PM Imran Khan's swearing-in ceremony yesterday, says 'It was wrong for him to have shown the affection towards the Pakistan Army Chief' pic.twitter.com/WcVSYcqGlN
— ANI (@ANI) August 19, 2018
Charges of sedition
Meanwhile, yesterday, Sidhu has been served with charges of sedition by a Bihar based lawyer for the same.
Lawyer, Sudhir Kumar Ojha, who is known for indicting celebrities, filed a petition against Sidhu in Muzaffarpur’s chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Hari Prasad. The lawyer alleged in his petition that Sidhu has insulted the families of Indian soldiers killed by Pakistan’s army and terrorists sponsored by the country by hugging General Bajwa and sitting next to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir’s president Masood Khan, reports the Hindustan Times.
“I have urged the court to book Sidhu under IPC sections 124 A, 153 B and 504 for hurting the nation’s sentiments and order for his arrest,” he said.
Sidhu’s response to the controversy
After receiving flak from all corners, Navjot Singh Sidhu, who returned India on Sunday, defended himself by saying that his act should not be seen in a bad light. According to ANI, when Sidhu was asked why he sat beside President of PoK Masood Khan during the oath-taking ceremony, he said that he was asked to sit there. “If you’re invited as a guest of honour somewhere, you sit wherever you are asked to. I was sitting somewhere else, but they asked me to sit there,” he told the ANI at Wagah border in Amritsar.
Navjot Singh Sidhu returns to India after attending the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan as Pakistan Prime Minister in Islamabad yesterday; #Visuals from Attari-Wagah border pic.twitter.com/zUMRGPSQon
— ANI (@ANI) August 19, 2018
Regarding the ‘hugging’ fiasco, he said, “If someone (Bajwa) comes to me and says that we belong to the same culture and we’ll open Kartarpur border on Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th Prakash Parv, what else I could do?”
Love from our neighbours
Before leaving Pakistan, Sidhu told the media that he received an overwhelming response and love from the people of Pakistan. He also said that the Pakistan Army Chief had assured him that steps would be taken to open corridor for Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
To a question about the revival of cricketing ties between India and Pakistan, Sidhu said “I am in favour of resuming cricketing ties. It is a good idea if IPL and PSL winners have a clash.”