With ousted chief minister Amarinder Singh continuously “warning” that state Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu is a “threat” to the nation because of his close links with the ISI and Pakistan, Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Randhawa on Friday said the government would probe the Captain's ties with a Pakistani defence journalist, Aroosa Alam, who had been visiting Amarinder every now and then and staying at his residence near Chandigarh or at his palace in Patiala.
“Captain Amarinder Singh is now saying that there is a threat from ISI. We will look into the woman’s connection with it. Captain kept raising the issue of drones coming from Pakistan for the last 4-5 years. He first raised this issue and later got BSF deployed in Punjab. We will ask the DGP to look into this matter,” Punjab deputy chief minister, who also holds the home portfolio, informed a news agency.
Amarinder has reacted strongly to Randhawa’s decision to probe his “links” with Aroosa.
“You were a minister in my cabinet. Never heard you complain about Aroosa Alam. And she’d been coming for 16 years with due GoI clearances. Or are you alleging that both NDA and the Congress-led UPA govts in this period connived with the Pak ISI?” Amarinder’s media adviser tweeted, quoting the ousted chief minister.
Aroosa’s friendship dates back to over 15 years when she reportedly met Amarinder and has been visiting him since then. When tongues started wagging in 2007, she flew from Pakistan and held a press conference at Chandigarh Press Club denying any “heart” problems with the “Raja Saheb”. She even went to the extent of seeking help from the media to scotch rumours of her “affairs with Amarinder as she, too, was a journalist.
The lady is believed to have done a course in military strategy in 2006 at Pakistan’s National Defence College, which normally admits only senior officers — enough reason for many to smell a rat.
The two had reportedly first met when Aroosa visited Punjab as part of a delegation of Pakistani journalists and developed a close alliance after Amarinder, as chief minister, honoured her at a function in Jalandhar.
Vernacular newspapers published from Jalandhar have continuously carried juicy details about her alleged affair with Amarinder, that the two had even secretly married. Some reports had even suggested the alleged “affair” had caused consternation in the royal palace in Patiala. However, Amarinder's wife, Preneet Kaur, continues to maintain total silence on the issue in public, even now.
“Pyaar nahin, dosti hai (it’s not love, it’s friendship),” she told media persons at the press conference, ruing her pretty face had become an object of entertainment for many.
Stressing that Amarinder was only a “good friend”, she said unfounded stories of a romantic liaison could cause her harm in Pakistan.
“Don’t berate my character in public. My religion doesn’t permit these things. I have a social status in my country,” she appealed. “I also have my family, and status in Pakistan.”
Amarinder's political opponents have over the years constantly demanded a thorough probe into Amarinder’s “trans-border escapades”, terming her an ISI agent and a serious matter involving national security.
“It is so ridiculous and ironic that in India I am being dubbed an ISI agent and here in Pakistan, they are branding me a RAW agent," Aroosa had told this correspondent. Amarinder, too, had in 2007, asked the media not to malign her as she could face problems in Pakistan “from mullahs.”