Welcoming Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s plans to open the route to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan for Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in 2019, former Sports Minister M S Gill on Monday said this was a “huge signal” to India, and New Delhi should welcome the offer.
“The government should welcome Gen Bajwa’s plans… I am surprised the Indian government has not shown any enthusiasm at Bajwa’s statement, which in my opinion is a huge signal to India,” Gill, who has visited Pakistan several times, told The Indian Express.
On Saturday, cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu, who attended Khan’s swearing-in ceremony, said the Pakistan army chief told him of plans to open the route to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur for Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary. Bajwa also mentioned the desire to open the route to Nankana Sahab – one of the many Sikh pilgrimage sites in Pakistani province of Punjab.
Sidhu, a minister in the Punjab government of Captain Amarinder Singh, was seen engaging in a conversation with General Bajwa, and sharing a gentle embrace. He faced flak from opposition on his “embrace”.
Gill said the government in Delhi had never done anything to give spiritual comfort to the Sikhs. “The Muslims have Mecca. Hindus have Tirupati. But, why is the tiny Sikh community deprived of their visits to Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan?” Gill said.
While Sikh pilgrims can travel to the gurdwara at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, they are not allowed to go to Kartarpur Sahib, where Guru Nanak spent his last two decades.
There have been demands to provide a corridor to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, 3 km from the India-Pakistan border, from Gurdwara Dera Sahib, enabling the devotees to walk to the shrine and return the same day without passport and visa. But that has not happened.