New Delhi – Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, lacerated over his comment after the Pulwama terror attack that an “entire nation can’t be held responsible” was defiant today as he said he was firm on his stand, that the country’s fight is against terrorism and perpetrators of terror.
Targeted by the opposition Akali Dal and the BJP, Navjot Sidhu also referred to the 1999 hijack of an Indian Airlines flight and the swap of passengers held hostage in Kandahar with three terrorists including Masood Azhar in Kandahar.
Masood Azhar set up Jaish-e-Mohammad, the terror group responsible for the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama, in which 40 soldiers were killed when a suicide bomber detonated a car full of RDX near a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy.
“I want to ask who released those involved in 1999 Kandahar incident? Whose responsibility is it? Our fight is against them. Why should a soldier die? Why can’t there be a permanent solution? Terrorism has no community. The issue is not what I am saying – the issue is this (terrorism). Our fight is against those who claimed responsibility (for 1999 attack). It is my fight as well,” said Mr Sidhu.
“I am firm on my stand. Terrorism will not be tolerated. People who are responsible should be punished so harshly that it acts as deterrence for generations to come,” the Congress leader told reporters.
The cricketer-politician had sparked outrage with his comment that a nation cannot be held responsible for the acts of terrorists, which was seen to support Pakistan and its Prime Minister Imran Khan (a former cricket legend) despite New Delhi’s strong resolve to work for Pakistan’s isolation.
Mr Sidhu was attacked in the Punjab assembly, with the Akali Dal demanding his resignation.
“Navjot Singh Sidhu should be suspended from the Congress party for his comments on Pakistan. In fact, a case should be registered against those who make anti-national statements,” said Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal.
Before the start of the Punjab Budget session, Akali leaders led by Bikram Singh Majithia bunt the photographs of Mr Sidhu, especially those in which he is seen hugging the Pakistan Army chief during his visit to Pakistan in August last year for the oath ceremony of Imran Khan.