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SGPC chief plays down photo with 'pro-Khalistan' leader

SGPC chief plays down photo with 'pro-Khalistan' leader

After Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, now SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal on Friday played down his appearance in a photograph with a "pro-Khalistan" leader in Pakistan.

Asked to comment on sharing a frame with "separatist" Gopal Singh Chawla at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan, Longowal said he was only following the seating arrangements at the function.

"I sat at the designated place only as per the protocol fixed by Pakistan authorities. How would I have known who was sitting next to me? I had never met Chawla in my life and did not recognise him. The issue is unnecessarily being raked up," he said.

Chawla is the general secretary of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) and is known to speak for "Khalistan".

On Thursday, Sidhu upon his return home from the event in Pakistan, had played down his appearance in a photograph with Chawla in Pakistan.

He had come under a sharp attack from Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal after a picture from the ceremony showed him with Chawla.

Chawla had shared the purported picture on his Facebook page.

The minister had said he had posed with several people and it was difficult to distinguish them.

Meanwhile, Longowal informed that the Pakistan government was making arrangements to observe the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev next year.

He said the PSGPC has extended invitation to him for some religious events connected with 550th birth anniversary celebrations and he has accepted its invitation.

Longowal expressed concern over the plight of some gurdwaras in Pakistan which he said were found in dilapidated condition.

He informed that encroachments were also spotted in many Sikh shrines in Pakistan.

He said he would raise the matter with PSGPC officials.

(With inputs from agencies.)



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