‘They Are Hyenas, Once Sat at Amarinder’s Feet’: Aroosa Alam

New Delhi : Aroosa Alam, Captain Amarinder Singh’s long-time friend and Pakistani journalist who is in the midst of a political slugfest in the state, on Tuesday termed the former Punjab chief minister’s detractors as “hyenas” and said she would drag them to court for defaming her.

Last week, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa had said that a probe would be conducted on Alam’s alleged ISI links. Captain Amarinder had hit back and in tweets posted on his behalf by his media adviser Raveen Thukral, had said Alam had been “coming for 16 years with due GoI clearances”.

Alam said she had no links to the ISI. “The biggest democracy in the world is insulting a woman. I feel sad that my photo is being shared again and again. I too have a family, children and friends; I reiterate that I am innocent.”

She said, “I am very sad, I am very disappointed. I have been coming to India for the past 16 years, every year I used to get a one-year visa after due clearances.”

She is highly upset with politics being played here. She said, “Do they think that RAW is also hand in glove with ISI. Your IB, central security agencies, BJP-led NDA government, Congress-led UPA government– were all of them on the ISI payroll that I used to get the visa?

This is absurd. Actually I don’t really care about these allegations. I am at that stage of my life where I don’t care about these things, but look at the level of their politicking.

How can you stoop so low? Please go and do some work for people if you are in the government, why are you dragging me into this?

I personally feel that they dislodged Captain saab (Amarinder Singh) as Punjab’s CM on the pretext of (his failure to implement) the 18-point agenda and things like that, but the basic idea was only to remove him.

And after that they are now finding it very difficult to deliver on these points themselves.

I am reacting to all this because today Captain saab came on Facebook and talked about me, and I thought I must appreciate it.

(On Monday, Amarinder posted pictures of Aroosa with various dignitaries and asked whether they were all ISI agents too. He also said had the travel between the two countries resumed, he would invite her again) Believe me, Captain saab is every inch a gentleman.

In my opinion, they (people leveling allegations against her) are political orphans. They are dwarfs. They do not know what to do now (after removing Captain). Ab inke haath paanv phool gaye hain. Captain saab was doing quite well. Channi saab (Punjab CM Charanjit Channi) is now distributing cheques and promoting government schemes– all those processes were initiated by Captain saab. Did Channi have a magic lamp that he rubbed and were all these cheques, lists of beneficiaries made overnight? Now, they don’t know what to do. They are a deeply divided house. Now please fight your battles on your own, why are you dragging me into this mess?”

On being questioned Who is dragging you into this political slugfest and why? she said, “Simply because the present leaders in Punjab government have not been able to deliver. They had made tall claims of immediately cancelling Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and many such things but now they are yet to get a grip on the matter. So what better way to divert the attention of people of Punjab?

Secondly, Captain saab’s announcement that he is going to form his own political party and tie up with BJP has made them very nervous. I do not want to comment on East (India’s) Punjab politics, neither do I have any link or motive but I have been watching. And now when they have dragged me into it, I will only say, ‘Your monkeys, your circus’.”

When she was enquired about Punjab Congress’ chief Navjot Singh Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu has alleged that you took “kickbacks” for postings in Punjab and then fled, she replied, “It is way too cheap. ‘Wo keh rahi hai wo bhaag gai, wo bhaag gai’ (She is saying that I have run away). Main bhaagi nahi (I haven’t run away). I came to Pakistan after my visa expired and now I am at my home in Islamabad. Mohtarma Navjot Kaur Sidhu has the blood of 60 innocent persons on her hands ( referring to October 2018 Amritsar Dussehra train tragedy in which 62 persons standing on tracks were mowed down by a train. A magisterial inquiry had cleared the name of Navjot Kaur Sidhu who was the chief guest at the function). What right does she have to talk about others and level baseless allegations?

I have nothing to do with Navjot (Singh) Sidhu as well, but yes they are targeting me now for obvious reasons. Mujhe iss baat ka afsos hota hai.. ki Navjot Sidhu saab, who thinks that he can lead Punjab one day (as CM), look at the way he talks to Captain Amarinder saab, who must be the age of his father or grandfather. Kis tarah un se baat karta hai…. If you do not have respect for someone, then how can you think of becoming a leader at all? Navjot Singh Sidhu has failed to become a leader in the true sense. I have met him once, and I have a photo with him too.”

Questioning about what do you have to say about this photo war involving you on Twitter? There are photos of you with former DGP Dinkar Gupta, and the family of retired police officer Mohammad Mustafa. she said, “This is the lowest, worst level of politicking ever. Look at Punjab’s deputy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa. How nice and decent he looks but see what he talks. There is absolutely no relevance of this photo war and my photos with anyone have nothing to do with Punjab government or politics. Whosoever started this (tweeting photos), was their enemy who advised them to rake up an issue by tweeting my photos.”

When asked that did you ever meet Mohammad Mustafa or Sukhjinder Randhawa during your stay in Punjab?

She replied,” I have met Mustafa and his wife Razia Sultana (MLA Malerkotla) multiple times. He used to call me ‘behen’ (sister). I met Randhawa briefly once or twice may be.”

Next she was questioned why is Mustafa critical of you on Twitter?

She says, “He is under this misunderstanding that I favoured Dinkar Gupta over him for the post of Punjab DGP. He thinks that because of me, he could not become the Punjab DGP. But who am I to take the Punjab government decisions? I used to come as Captain saab’s guest. What do I have to do with what was happening in Punjab government meetings? I used to stay in the guest room and concentrate on my work during my stay of a few days in Punjab. Even Navjot Kaur Sidhu has alleged that I used to decide appointments in the Punjab government but my only answer to this is — that whosoever knows Captain saab also knows that he does not listen to anyone. If I tell him that please pick up this pen and keep it there, he won’t. He does not take dictation and who am I to decide postings/transfers? What position or authority do I have to decide all this for the Punjab government? Meri kya haisiyat thi ki main postings/transfers karaun? God is my witness. I have always stayed away from his (Captain’s) official works and meetings.

On being questioned about relation with Captain Amarinder Singh she said, “Our mental and IQ level are very much the same. When I met Captain saab (in 2006), I was 50+ and he was 60+, so if you call it a love affair and try to give it a romantic angle, it’s very wrong. I am very lucky that he has chosen me to be his friend in this whole wide world. It is a pure, beautiful friendship. I like his gardening and cooking skills and similarly, he likes some of my things such as my writings etc. So, all these years have brought us together as very good friends. Whenever I am in India, I don’t just meet him (Captain) but also his family, his sisters and brothers-in-law, his children… other than madam Maharani sahiba (Preneet Kaur). I meet all of them, they are my family friends.

Like Indians are always very excited about visiting Pakistan, we also had this craze to visit India, and I used to accompany many of my friends and family members. Since we used to meet Captain often, we always took sponsorship for the visa from him. That’s how our friendship blossomed. There is a long process, a fool- proof process (to grant visa) that no one can tamper with. Everytime I was given a visa, that process was duly followed.

I went back to Pakistan in November last year. After that the borders were sealed and my daughter-in-law was pregnant, so I never went back to India. How are they claiming that Aroosa was in Punjab for four and half years since the Congress came to power? It’s been a year now that I am in Pakistan. How are they saying that ‘saadey chaar saal sarkaar ne Aroosa ko rakha?’ And for the rest of more than 10 years, when Captain was not in power, even then I used to come to India on limited-time visa. Why are they linking it with Punjab government now?”

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