Former Pakistan journalist and an old friend of Amarinder Singh, Aroosa Alam, has denied allegations of links with the ISI and that of influencing Singh when he was the Punjab Chief Minister.
Aroosa Alam, Captain Amarinder Singh’s long-time friend and a former journalist from Pakistan, has been pulled into the political slanging match in Punjab. On Wednesday, in an exclusive conversation with India Today from Islamabad, she rubbished all the allegations of links with the ISI and of influencing Amarinder Singh when he was the Punjab Chief Minister.
SOULMATES, NOT LOVERS
Responding to the allegations of an affair with Amarinder Singh, Aroosa Alam said they were soulmates, not lovers.
“We have been companions. When I first met him, I was 56 and he was around 66. At such an age, you are not looking for lovers. We were friends, companions and soulmates,” she said.
She said, “We met at a juncture in life where love affairs and romance don’t matter. We have been soulmates and good family friends. I have met his mother, his family, sisters.”
In a fresh jibe, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa invoked religion to say that “love affairs” were not allowed in the Sikh religion. “Even in Gurbani, living with another woman is considered wrong. Captain and I fought in America as well regarding the issue of Aroosa Alam,” he had said on Tuesday.
Last week, Randhawa had said that a probe would be conducted on Alam’s alleged ISI links. Captain Amarinder Singh responded with a string of tweets put out by his media advisor Raveen Thukral. He accused the deputy chief minister of “resorting to personal attacks”.
He added, “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 [Government of India] clearances. Or are you alleging that both the NDA and Congress-led UPA governments in this period connived with Pakistan’s ISI?”
ALLOWED ENTRY INTO INDIA FOR 16 YEARS
Aroosa Alam rubbished the allegations by saying that the politicians are questioning the Indian security agencies when they say an ISI agent was allowed entry into India for the past 16 years.
“When Pakistanis get visas, it is a very painful and long process with lots of security and background checks. There are a few agencies involved. I have been travelling to India for the past 16 years and each time I have cleared security. How can I have ISI links which were not known to the agencies for so many years? If I were an ISI agent then it points fingers at your security agencies who might be traitors for allowing me entry for so many years,” she said.
BUNCH OF HYENAS
Calling the former Chief Minister’s detractors a bunch of hyenas, she said, “They are a bunch of hyenas. They are opportunists, disloyal. Punjab politics has hit a new low. All this is lust for power. Everyone wants to become the chief minister.
These are over-ambitious people who wanted to get their share,” she said.
Former MLA Navjot Kaur Sidhu had alleged that not a single posting in the police department in Punjab happened without a “gift or payment” to Alam.
“Not a single posting happened without paying off Aroosa or without giving her a gift. She has taken all the money with her to Pakistan, and Captain should also go there and enjoy his time there with her. We were never heeded because I never let my husband (Navjot Singh Sidhu) get close to Aroosa,” Navjot said in a scathing attack.
Alam’s response was a bitter personal attack on the Sidhu couple. She asked them to first look within before raising questions about the integrity of someone else.
“I have been with Captain sahab for 13 years when he was in opposition. When he was not in power for so many years, then how could I know the SP, SSPs or DSPs? How can I manage postings and transfers? I don’t even know which minister had which portfolio,” she said.
She added, “He hated me discussing politics with him when he became the chief minister. He always said have fun, socialise, meet your friends. Stay away from politics.”
As for the personal attacks, Aroosa Alam said, “Anybody can level allegations. I could do the same. She has not been living with Navjtot Singh Sidhu for years. Her husband used to be in Mumbai and she used to run the ministry. I overheard complaints about his inefficiency and that no work was being done without money.”
She also said that her children and family were quite affected by the controversy in India. “They have so many questions and I have no answers. My children are affected. They used to warn me and today I have paid a heavy price,” she said.