Sikh separatists feature in Pakistan's video on Kartarpur
Three Sikh separatist leaders, including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his military adviser Shabeg Singh, who were killed during the Operation Blue Star in 1984 have featured in an official video released by the Pakistan government on the Kartarpur corridor, triggering a controversy.
The video was released on Monday just days ahead of the inauguration ceremony of the much-awaited corridor, which will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan, just 4 kilometres from the International Border.
The video also showed a poster by a banned pro-Khalistani group, the Sikhs for Justice, which is pushing for Sikh Referendum 2020 as part of its separatist agenda.
Bhindranwale was the head of Sikh religious sect Damdami Taksal. He was killed by the security forces in the Operation Blue Star in 1984. He is alleged to be the mascot of the Khalistan movement in which thousands of people were killed.
Shabeg Singh, a general in the Indian army, joined the Khalistani movement in 1984 after he was stripped of his rank and court-martialled on charges of corruption just before his retirement. Singh, believed to be Bhindranwale's military adviser, was also killed in the operation.
During the Kartarpur corridor talks, India had conveyed its strong concerns to Pakistan over the presence of a leading Khalistani separatist in a committee appointed by Islamabad on the project.
Notwithstanding a chill in bilateral ties over Kashmir, Pakistan and India after tough negotiations signed a landmark agreement last week to operationalise the historic Kartarpur Corridor to allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the holy Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.
The two countries decided that 5,000 pilgrims can visit the shrine everyday and that additional pilgrims will be allowed on special occasions, subject to capacity expansion of facilities by the Pakistani side.
India and Pakistan have also decided that the corridor will be operational through the year and seven days a week and that pilgrims, except kids and elderly persons, will have a choice to visit it as individuals or in groups.