A day after his comments on Pulwama attack that "a nation cannot be held responsible for the acts of terrorists", Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday stuck to his stand saying that though for him, "country had always been first", he "cannot blame an entire nation for what a few cowards did".
"Mere liye hamesha hi desh pehle tha (For me the country had always been first)… but I stand by what I said yesterday (Friday) and I cannot blame an entire nation for an act done by a few cowards..," said Sidhu, adding his statement was "distorted". He was replying to a query by media persons here that for him what matters more, friendship or country.
"I said this yesterday (Friday) and I am saying this again today (Saturday)… There is good, bad and ugly… The ugly has to be punished, but these few cowards cannot hold an entire society, humanity, crores of other people and good deeds on ransom," said Sidhu.
"I continue to stand by my words that terrorism has no dharam, mazhab, zaat aur desh (religion, caste or country). My statement was not shown fully and a line was picked from it. Act of a few terrorists cannot make a country kneel before them. They have killed our jawans, they have put a blot on our turbans (dignity), but just because of their cowardly act, we cannot put a full stop on the philosophy of Guru Nanak. A decision taken by two Prime Ministers to open Kartarpur Corridor should not be affected because of these cowards," said Sidhu who was in Ludhiana Saturday to announce some development projects being undertaken by the municipal corporation.
"Kya hum ye chahte hain ki aatank ke aage ghutne tek diye jayein? Kya chaar aaatankiyon ki wajah se, jinhone hamare jawaan shaheed kiye, humari padgi pe daag lagaya, kya unki wajah se desh ka vikaas ruk jaayega? Kya unki wajah se bana Nanak ki philosophy aage nahi badhegi? (Should we kneel before terrorism? Should development of country stop because of a handfull of terrorists who killed our soldiers? Should Guru Nanak’s philosophy be not carried forward because of them)," asked Sidhu.
He added that he has no regrets for hugging Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa or visiting the country for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony. "No, I have no regrets. Even former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Pakistan and then Kargil War happened. Prime Minister Narendra Modi went there without even an invitation. I went because I was invited. There has to be a permanent solution to this problem and the only way to stop our jawans getting killed is international pressure and it is being done since yesterday. There are some snakes who have back-stabbed us and they should be crushed. When did I say that conspirators and terrorists behind this act should not be punished," he asked. Sidhu added that it is only Pakistan Prime Minister Khan who can answer that why he has not condemned the Pulwama attack yet. "How can I answer on his behalf. He should know this," said Sidhu.
"But I also want to question that why security and safety of our forces was not taken care of? Why movement of more than 3,000 jawans did not invite any special security checks whereas a city comes to a halt during a politician’s visit. Why they were not taken by air and how did an explosive-filled vehicle manage to reach near them? All such attacks on our forces have only increased in recent years. Where is 56-inch chest now," asked Sidhu in a veiled attack on PM Narendra Modi. Later in the day, Sidhu went to Ghaloti Khurd village of Moga and visited the family of slain CRPF personnel Jaimal Singh. He assured the family that the state government will support them in every way and their compensation amount will be released soon.
Meanwhile, he also announced Rs 1,100-crore clean drinking water project.
BJP youth wing protests against Sidhu
Workers of the BJP youth wing – Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha – protested against Sidhu outside the venue in Ludhiana with black flags and blackened his photograph on hoardings. Detained by police, they were released later.
Sidhu should have been careful with words: MP Bittu
Indicating that he does not agree with Sidhu’s stand on Pulwama attack, Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, speaking on the sidelines of the programme, said, "Sidhu saab should have been careful with his words at this hour of grief. I am from a family of martyrs and I can understand the pain of the families in this tough time. I am more surprised because Sidhu knows the pride of wearing Tricolor as he represented the country in international cricket."