Punjab Congress today hit out at those standing up in support of Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, saying there was enough "documentary and circumstantial evidence on record" to prove Sajjan's "Khalistani leanings".
Those criticising Chief Minister Amarinder Singh were playing into the hands of "anti-Indian forces", which were "out to destroy the secular fabric of the country", said Congress MPs Ravneet Bittu and Gurjeet Aujla in a statement here.
They urged all the organisations, including political parties, not to indulge in "petty politics" over such a serious issue, which had "grave implications for the future of Punjab and its people".
The "pro-Khalistani leanings" of Sajjan, whose India visit begins today, had been endorsed by several leaders of his own Liberal Party, many of whom had quit the party in protest against his candidature as a Liberal, the Congress leaders pointed out.
"Sajjan's brazenly pro-Khalistani stance had also not gone down well with the Indian government when the Liberal candidate, at a Surrey temple remembrance day event in 2011, had warned his colleagues not to allow themselves to be photographed near the posters of Khalistani martyrs. So much so that Ottawa was forced to apologise to India over the issue," they added.
As per information in the public domain, the apology followed complaints from some Punjabi-Canadians that religious fundamentalists would hijack a solemn day to honour the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers, they said.
By choosing to ignore these and many other "documented facts", political and religious organisations in India were extending their subtle support to Sajjan and "other pro- Khalistani elements like him", the Congress leaders said, warning that this would prove to be "highly damaging to the interests of India, particularly Punjab, in the long run".
The recent statements of several religious and political leaders, dubbing Amarinder's refusal to meet Sajjan during his India visit as a "conspiracy", were a cause for concern as they had "chosen to indulge in needless criticism, without even bothering to check Sajjan's background", the Congress leaders added.
Their dismissal of Amarinder's principled stand as "frivolous" showed that these leaders were "least concerned about the gravity of the issue" and were "merely interested in promoting their vested interests", they alleged.
It is "shameful" that certain elements within India were "choosing to ignore hard facts that many in Canada had taken a serious note of", they said.
The Congress leaders added that having been scarred by militancy in the past, Punjab could not afford to ignore such "blatant signs of efforts to revive the Khalistani forces", which were waiting to draw out their fangs at the slightest opportunity.