Imran Khan meets ‘Khalistani’ Gopal Singh Chawla ahead of Kartarpur talks

Madhuri Adnal

Islamabad, Mar 14: Ahead of India-Pakistan meeting at Wagah border on Kartarpur corridor, Pakistan PM Imran Khan met pro-Khalistan leader and Jaish chief Masood Azhar's aide Gopal Singh Chawla.

Chawla is linked to Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and works in the capacity of its general secretary. He was earlier spotted shaking hands with Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa at an event organised in Pakistan to lay the foundation stone for Kartarpur corridor.

The pro-Khalistani is the General Sectary of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) and had also met Congress MP Navjot Singh Sidhu during the same event.

Chawla is also believed to be close to JuD terrorist Hafiz Saeed and was clicked with the Mumbai attacks mastermind recently. His photo with Saeed is also in public domain.

Chawla was also involved in a controversy wherein Indian diplomats were prevented from entering a Gurdwara in Lahore to meet Indian pilgrims who had travelled from New Delhi. His name also figured during investigation into the grenade attack on Nirankari Bhawan near Amritsar.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan will hold their first meeting to finalise the modalities, three months after the two countries agreed on the project.

[India to raise Khalistan concern during Kartarpur talks with Pakistan]

In the meeting, to be held at the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah border, New Delhi is likely to press for hassle-free travel of Indian pilgrims to the Pakistani side besides asking Islamabad to insulate them from any propaganda by Khalistani separatists, official sources said.

Last year, there were reports that pro-Khalistan banners were shown to the pilgrims who were on their way to two Sikh shrines and apart from this Indian diplomats were forced to leave the Sachcha Sauda Gurdwara when they arrived there to meet Indian Sikh pilgrims. It was Chawla who had forced the diplomats to leave the Gurdwara.

The Indian delegation comprises of representatives from Union Home Ministry, External Affairs Ministry, BSF, National Highways Authority of India and Punjab government.

The meeting comes amid heightened tensions between the two neighbours following India's air strike on a terrorist training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Pakistan's subsequent retaliation.

Last November, India and Pakistan agreed to set up the border crossing linking Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur - the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev - to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district.

Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four km from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.Phase-l will be developed over 15 acres of land and the passenger terminal will be a green building which will display murals and photographs based on rich Indian cultural values, sources said, adding the design of the complex will reflect values of oneness and humanity.

The building will be differently-abled and will cater to the smooth movement of approximately 5000 pilgrims per day to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan.

Also Read:

Pak-backed Khalistanis attack British Indians gathered outside Indian High Commission in London

Kartarpur Corridor talks between India and Pakistan begin

Priyanka Gandhi’s Gujarat speech was elegant; for Congress, it was ‘Michelle Obama moment’