New Delhi: India on Monday summoned Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner in New Delhi and lodged a strong protest at attempts by Islamabad to incite Sikh pilgrims to raise the issue of Khalistan on their return to India.
An Indian foreign ministry statement said the Pakistan deputy high commissioner was called in to register India’s objection to Pakistan making inflammatory remarks and displaying posters with such messages at places where the pilgrims visited.
A group of around 1,800 Sikh pilgrims is currently in Islamabad to visit holy sites and shrines. In the 1980s, India witnessed a bloody insurgency for the creation of a separate Khalistan state for Sikhs. The militancy was quelled in the early 1990s.
India protested at the attempts “being made during the ongoing visit of the Sikh pilgrims from India to Pakistan to raise the issue of ‘Khalistan’ by making inflammatory statements and displaying posters at various places of pilgrims visit in Pakistan," the Indian statement said.
“Pakistan was called upon to immediately stop all such activities that were aimed at undermining India’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and incitement of disharmony in India," it said.
“It was conveyed that such repeated attempts by authorities and entities in Pakistan to extend support to secessionist movements in India amount to interference in the internal affairs of India. Moreover, such incidents during the visit of the Indian pilgrims went against the spirit of the bilateral protocol of 1974 governing the exchange of visits of pilgrims between the two countries," it added.
India on Sunday had said Pakistan had not allowed its high commission officials in Islamabad to visit the pilgrims for basic consular and protocol duties. The Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria was also prevented from meeting them and wishing them on Baisakhi.
In a statement from its foreign office on Sunday, Pakistan had denied these charges.