The opposition SAD and AAP on Saturday slammed Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta's for his purported statement on the Kartarpur corridor and sought clarification from Chief Minister Amarinder Singh within 24 hours. Senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia warned, "If clarification is not issued, the party will stall proceedings of the budget session of the Vidhan Sabha on February 24."
The Aam Aadmi Party too lashed out at the DGP, terming the statement condemnable and seeking the removal of the top cop.
Responding to the criticism over the statement he made at an event organised by a national daily on February 20, the DGP said he was being "misunderstood or wilfully misconstrued" as his remarks strictly pertained the security and safety of Punjab and India.
SAD senior leader Bikram Singh Majithia said DGP Gupta had told a national daily that "Kartarpur offers a potential that you send somebody in the morning as an ordinary chap and by evening he comes back as trained terrorist actually. You are there for six hours, you can be taken to a firing range, you can be taught to make an IED".
The DGP also reportedly said some elements based in the neighbouring country were "trying to woo the pilgrims and making overtures to them".
"I condemn the statement in the strongest possible words. I do not think it is the statement given by the Punjab DGP, I see this coming from the Congress headquarters because this DGP was handpicked by overlooking several senior officers," alleged Majithia.
Majithia dubbed the statement a "deep-rooted conspiracy" of the Congress to paint every Sikh pilgrim a "terrorist".
"As many as 52,098 pilgrims have so far paid obeisance at the Kartarpur gurdwara. Please check and see which one of them became terrorist," asked Majithia, alleging that they (Congress) were trying to get the corridor shut.
AAP MLA and the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, Harpal Singh Cheema, sought the DGP's removal.
"The statement poses a threat to the country's unity and integrity. The CM should lodge an FIR against him (DGP), put him behind bars and remove him from his post," said Cheema.
Meanwhile, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Gobind Singh Longowal also condemned the DGP's statement and said the corridor gave a message of peace.
"With the DGP's statement, sentiments of Sikhs have been hurt. So far, 50,000 devotees have offered prayers at the Kartarpur gurdwara and no such instance like what the DGP has said has come to the fore yet," said Longowal in a statement.
Later in the day, DGP Dinkar Gupta said there was absolutely no reference to any religion or community in his remarks.
"I only red-flagged the obvious potential for the misuse by elements notorious for their hostility towards India and their efforts to exploit every opportunity, even the most pious one, to disturb peace and communal harmony," said Gupta in a statement here. Therefore, we need to be vigilant to such potential dangers in the interest of peace and security of the people of the state, who, he said, had already suffered a lot in the past at the hands of terrorism promoted by the hostile neighbour.
Gupta said as the DGP of the state, which is faced with continuing battle against violent extremism funded and supported from across the border, he cannot over emphasise the need to remain vigilant.
Clarifying his position, Gupta said he was "rejoiced" at the opening of the Kartarpur corridor which fulfilled the decades-old aspirations of millions of devotees.
The state government and all its agencies, including the Punjab Police, worked with great devotion and commitment to successfully observe the historic event (opening of Kartarpur corridor), he said.
"As the state DGP, I assure that we will continue to strive to work towards facilitating trouble-free access to the holy shrine of Kartarpur," he said.
Earlier, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh too had repeatedly warned that Pakistan had "nefarious designs" behind the opening of the Kartarpur corridor and had also maintained that while he was extremely happy as a Sikh at its opening, "the threat it posed to India could not be ignored".
The Kartarpur corridor, which was opened on November 9 last year, links the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan--the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev--with Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur of Indian Punjab.