Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that Navjot Singh Sidhu’s gesture of hugging Pakistan’s army chief “impacted soldiers back home” and asserted that he could have “avoided it”, Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday.
Cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu had courted controversy in India by hugging Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa during his visit to Pakistan for the swearing-in of Imran Khan as prime minister.
He had claimed that he did so as Gen Bajwa told him that the Pakistani government was working to open the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims from Indian Punjab.
“Sidhu has a lot of admirers…somebody of that stature going there and then hugging the chief of the army, an army about which in India we have very clear feelings, it certainly has an impact on soldiers. It demoralises the people. I wish Sidhu would have avoided it,” she said during an interaction at the Indian Women’s Press Corp (IWPC).