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David Headley’s brother at Vajpayee’s funeral

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Politicians raised a hue and cry over Navjot Singh Sidhu for hugging Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa but none of them spoke about Danyal Gilani, the half-brother of 26/11 plotter David Coleman Headley, who was included in a delegation that had arrived in Delhi to pay tributes to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Even Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had criticised Sidhu for hugging the Pakistani Army Chief but he and other political leaders didn’t make any statement about Danyal Gilani’s visit to India.

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Pakistan has always been known for spreading cross-border terrorism. While India has been taking steps to improve bilateral ties with Pakistan, it has been sponsoring terrorism. In such a scenario, how did the government allow Danyal Gilani to visit India? Isn’t allowing Gilani to attend Vajpayee’s funeral pose a security threat to the nation?

Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi stated, “I appreciate Navjot Singh Sidhu’s gesture. If bureaucrats of India and Pakistan are meeting, then only it will strengthen the bilateral ties between both the nations. Navjot Singh Sidhu has not committed any mistake and BJP is only politicising this issue with an eye on the election.”

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“If the government is not taking Gilani’s visit to India seriously and only criticising Sidhu, then it only shows their double standards. People who are supporting Modi are nationalists and those who criticise him are termed as anti-nationals,” he added.

Thus, questions are being raised about how Danyal Gilani, a close relative of the 26/11 mastermind David Headley, was granted the visa. What was the objective behind his visit to India? Gilani had held the post of the Information Services Officer for 8-10 years. Later, he went on to become the Director to the Information Minister. He was also the Chairman of Pakistan’s Central Film Censor Board.

MLC and Shiv Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said, “Sidhu had criticised Pakistan on several occasions and has displayed his patriotism for India. He had hugged Pakistan’s Army Chief as per whose instruction? We don’t know the reason behind Gilani’s visit to India. Sidhu had gone to Pakistan for attending Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony. Gilani is a bureaucrat but Sidhu is people’s representative.”

Gilani’s brother David Coleman Headley was imprisoned in the US for plotting the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike. Headley had visited and had recced several places in India prior to the 26/11 attacks. He was arrested in 2009. He had testified before a court in Mumbai through video conferencing from his prison in the US during the trial of Mumbai attacks mastermind Abu Jundal.

NCP MLC Vidya Chavan said, “Narendra Modi had visited Pakistan for attending Nawaz Sharif’s birthday. Sidhu had attended Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony after receiving an invitation. India and Pakistan must improve bilateral ties and terrorism must be eliminated. BJP is only politicising this issue.”

Moreover, Modi has become popular for his vigorous hugs and handshakes with other world leaders, displaying a tactile familiarity that often seems to take his counterparts by surprise. The resulting pictures are often awkward, subsequently making headlines all over the world. The tone can veer from admiration to mocking and everything in between. Politicians, prominent figures from sports, cinema, and popular culture meet diverse people all through their lives. Let it be Modi or Sidhu, it is regrettable that our news channels and some other electronic combatants on the  social media have lately legitimised this.

Congress spokesperson Rohan Gupta said, “We should wait for the government’s official statement. An investigation should be held to ascertain whether Gilani had attended Vajpayee’s funeral. If he really had visited, then it is a serious issue.”

Government sources said that Danyal Gilani, a career bureaucrat in Pakistan, has publicly disconnected himself from David Headley. But again no one knows the authenticity of this statement.

Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said that BJP is known for its double standards. “They are only trying to derive mileage out of this issue. If the government clarified that Gilani had visited India to attend Vajpayee’s funeral, then what would be the purpose of his arrival in the country? Narendra Modi himself visits Pakistan without any invitation to celebrate Nawaz Sharif’s birthday while Subramanian Swamy has said whosoever visits Pakistan is anti-national,” he said.

On the other hand, the government denied the reports of Danyal Gilani being a part of the delegation to attend Vajpayee’s funeral. A senior government official issued a statement to media, “Danyal Gilani was issued visa after checking the blacklist. He does not figure in our blacklist. There are no reports of his links to terrorism. Danyal Gilani, however, did go to the funeral venue but did not attend the courtesy meeting of Pakistan’s caretaker Law Minister Syed Ali Zaffar with Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. Pakistan High Commissioner Sohail Mehmood, Law Minister Syed Ali Zafar, Foreign Ministry spokesperson and Director General of South Asia Mehmood Faizal had met Sushma Swaraj.”

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