A video released by Pakistan to mark the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor has set off a controversy for featuring a poster of three Khalistani separatists, with "Khalistan 2020" written on it.
The 4-minute-long video, released by Pakistan's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Monday, shows a clip of Sikh pilgrims visiting a gurdwara in Pakistan with a poster of Khalistan separatists Bhindranwale, Major General Shabeg Singh and Amrik Singh Khalsa in the backdrop.
Bhindranwale was the head of Sikh religious sect Damdami Taksal. Major General Shabeg Singh was an Indian Army general who joined the Khalistani movement in 1984 after he was stripped of his rank on charges of corruption just before his retirement. Amrik Singh Khalsa was a Khalistani student leader who headed the now-banned All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSD). The three were killed during Indian Army's Operation Blue Star in Amritsar in June 1984.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had earlier raised concerns that Pakistan could misuse the corridor to revive Sikh militancy in Punjab. Several Indian intelligence agencies and experts have also questioned Pakistan's intentions of opening the route.
A fringe Khalistani group based in the US called "Sikhs for Justice" is attempting to promote the "Referendum 2020" movement by using the corridor with support from Pakistan's spy agency ISI.
The video has surfaced just days before Kartarpur Corridor's inauguration on November 9 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India and Pakistan had, on October 24, signed an agreement to open the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor for Indian pilgrims ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara.
The route will connect Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab's Gurdaspur district with Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan.