The disclosure on the Kartarpur Corridor by Pakistan’s railway minister Sheikh Rashid was shocking and yet on expected lines. He said that the Kartarpur Corridor was the brainchild of Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Bajwa and it would hurt India forever.

The Kartarpur Corridor is a visa free border crossing connecting the Gurdwara Sahib in Pakistan to the border with India. While this is a great initiative by both the governments, the problem however lies in the Pakistan Army and ISI.

The Indian intelligence has said that a close watch needs to be kept at all times as Pakistan would look to fan the Khalistan movement and also push its terrorists into India.

Pakistanis will remain Pakistanis:

The Government of India has been treading a careful path where the corridor is concerned. India has raised concerns several times with Pakistan that the corridor could be used for nefarious activities by the Pakistan Army and ISI.

The problem is that despite India reciprocating and showing good will, Pakistan has not given India the confidence that the corridor will not be used for its subversive activities. From the start, Pakistan has been inducing in activity that India has frowned upon. Firstly, Pakistan allowed the campaigners of Referendum 2020 to open an office in Lahore.

Following this, the Sikhs for Justice a group that campaigns for an independent Punjab said that 100 of its campaigners had reached Pakistan to coordinate the Referendum 2020 campaign. The SJF also said that Khalistan flags, banners and a life size poster of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale had been placed throughout the Nankana Sahib complex.

To make matters worse, Pakistan released an official video with pictures of the slain Khalistan terrorists. The video had the images of Bhindranwale, Major General (dismissed) Shabeg Singh and Amrik Khalsa. All these persons were killed in Operation Blue Star.

While the Imran Khan government has claimed the corridor was its initiative, Rashid contradicted the claim and said that it was the brainchild of General Bajwa. This will hurt India forever, he also added.

The statement was met with sharp reactions and one of the first one to criticise it was Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh. He termed the statement as a blatant and open threat and warned Pakistan against any misadventure against India. He also said that India would give a befitting reply to any bid by Pakistan to attack its borders or its people.

Earlier this year, former Pakistan Army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg said that Pakistan would use the Kartarpur Corridor for Khalistan terror. He said that jihad was the only way to teach India a lesson, while adding that the Indian Army cannot stop jihadis at the Line of Control.

India’s concerns:

Apart from several intelligence reports, India has also prepared a dossier in which it listed out events carried out by the Khalistan elements between 2016 and 2019. The dossier said that the ISI would look to propagate among the pilgrims the need for a Khalistan movement.

Intelligence agencies said that the ISI would spare no effort to whip up passions among the pilgrims.

The intent is to create a mass movement, generate sympathy from the pilgrims and then speed up the Khalistan movement, a South Block official tells MyNation. The official also said that Pakistan would look to misuse the visit by the pilgrims under the Bilateral Protocol of Visits to Religious Shrines, 1974. India has repeatedly told Pakistan not to target the pilgrims.

The other concern raised by India with regard to the referendum campaign being undertaken by Sikhs directly coming to Pakistan from Canada, the United States and Germany. India has accused Pakistan of tutoring these persons with regard to the Khalistan movement.

Earlier this year, it may be recalled that the Faridkot police had arrested Sukhwinder Singh on the charge that he was spying for Pakistan. Singh was directly recruited by the ISI and was asked to give information on the movement of the Indian Army. He was also told to keep the ISI posted about the traction relating to the Khalistan movement. What was even more worrisome was that he was recruited by Rawalpindi when had visited Pakistan as part of a Jatha from India in the year 2015.

The others to be recruited in a similar manner were Sukhpreet Kaur, Talwainder Singh, Bhola Singh and Naib Singh. These persons were recruited by the ISI between the years 2009 and 2013 while they had gone on a pilgrimage to the 18 Sikh Shrines in Lahore, Nankana Sahib, Sheikhpura, Hassan Abdal and Norowal.

Another case that has worried India is the one relating to Jagroop Singh. He had visited Pakistan along with a Jatha in the year 2016 and was imparted arms training by Lakhbir Singh Rhode and Harmeet Singh, two Khalistan terrorists who have been given refuge by Pakistan for the past several years.

Sidhu’s euphoria:

Navjot Singh Sidhu had created a furore when he visited Pakistan for the swearing in ceremony of Imran Khan and hugged the Pakistan Army chief. The Punjab Cabinet was divided over the issue.

While Captain Singh slammed Sidhu for the gesture, others praised him for raising the issue of the Kartarpur Corridor with the Pakistan Army chief.

Sidhu may have raised a valid point, but the trouble is that he needs to be careful while dealing with Pakistan. They cannot be trusted even for a second and the various intelligence reports clearly suggest what Pakistan’s evil designs are says an Intelligence Bureau official.

Captain Singh too cautioned Sidhu and said he needs to be careful in his dealings with the Imran Khan government in Pakistan.

Singh on an earlier occasion had said that the Pakistan Army and ISIS were behind the opening of this corridor. He had said that General Bajwa had confirmed the opening of this corridor even before Khan took over as PM. He also said that General Bajwa had told Sidhu before the swearing in ceremony of Imran Khan that he would be happy to know that they are opening the corridor.

The BJP has been critical of the manner in which Sidhu has handled the issue. Following his recent visit to Pakistan for the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor, the BJP said that Sidhu’s praise for the Pakistan Prime Minister seemed like he was placing Pakistan on a higher pedestal than India.

Sidhu had said that Imran Khan was the king of hearts. “Who gave him this right?”, the BJP asked while adding that the Congress leader was trying to protect Pakistan to be on a higher pedestal than India.

Sidhu during his speech at Pakistan while commenting on the criticism for his hug said that if a corridor can open because of one hug, then I will give a 100 such hugs. Why get the innocent sons of mothers killed on the borders, he had also said. Officials say that Sidhu is free to speak what he feels like, but when it comes to the Pakistan Army, the emotions in India are very high. India had just lost its soldiers in the Pulwama attack and it was clear that the attack had the blessings of the Pakistan Army. Further Indian soldiers are being martyred at the borders due to the mindless ceasefire violations that Pakistan indulges in every day. All these have the blessings of the Pakistan Army as well as its government. Hence in such a context, it was not right for Sidhu to praise Pakistan, several analysts feel.

The course of action and apprehensions:

Over the past few months, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have reached out to the Sikh community. While the creation of the Kartarpur Corridor was one such initiative, both Modi and Shah have ensured the removal of blacklists that had barred several overseas Sikhs from visiting India.

India says that it would do everything to ensure that Pakistan fails in its designs. The Indian agencies screen the pilgrims to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib. India feels that the recruitment from the Indian side would be extremely limited due to the fact that the pilgrim has to return home the very same day.

However, the apprehension is with regard to the overseas visitors, especially those from the UK, US, Canada and Germany. There have been several instances to that some of them had been involved directly in the referendum movement. The Indian agencies have also found money trails which suggest that these persons have been funding the movement as well.

India has also raised concerns with regard to the $20 feel that has been levied by Pakistan on all visitors. India has learnt that this has been misused by groups such as the Sikhs for Justice. Posters seeking a refund of the $20 fee for all those Sikhs who visited Kartarpur between November 9 and 12 had been put up by the SJF.

Officials say that India would always be wary of Pakistan’s designs. At no point in time are we letting our guard down as we are well aware that there is a hidden message from Pakistan to fan the Khalistan sentiment in the name of religion.