Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday welcomed the Union Cabinet’s decision on developing Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the International Border for pilgrims to Darbar Sahib gurdwara, Kartarpur on the banks of Ravi river in Pakistan.
In a statement here on Thursday, the CM said the move would facilitate lakhs of pilgrims desirous of visiting the Kartarpur gurdwara, where the first Sikh guru spent 18 years of his life.
The Chief Minister thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for accepting his personal request to celebrate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev on a grand scale globally.
He also expressed happiness at the Cabinet’s decision to develop the historic town of Sultanpur Lodhi, associated with the life of Guru Nanak Dev, as a heritage town, on the lines of a Smart City.
Amarinder appreciated various other decisions of the Cabinet to spread the message of Sri Guru Nanak Dev —- including the development of ‘Pind Babe Nanak Da Museum’, upgradation of Sultanpur Lodhi railway station, creation of centre for inter-faith studies along with establishing Chairs in foreign universities, release of a commemorative coin and postage stamps — as was demanded by the state government in its memorandum to the Centre.
The Chief Minister said that Centre’s decision to celebrate the event through a series of activities would give a boost to the state government’s plans to commemorate the auspicious occasion through year-long celebrations, which will kick off on Friday.
Punjab Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu also welcomed the announcement of setting up a corridor on Indian side as a part of commemoration of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
Sidhu, who was in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday to campaign for Congress, in a series of tweets said, “I welcome this auspicious step by the
Union Cabinet, it will be a cup of joy for 12 crore ‘Nanak Naam Laivas’. It will build bridges, burn animosity and will act like a soothing balm for two neighbouring countries.”
Another tweet by the leader said, “I thank the government of India from the core of my heart and take a bow! I request the Hon’ble PM of Pakistan @ImranKhanPTI Sahib to take reciprocal steps for opening the Kartarpur Sahib corridor and spread Baba Nanak’s message of universal brotherhood and peace across the globe.”
The issue of Kartarpur corridor had come into focus after Sidhu went to Pakistan for Imran Khan’s swearing in ceremony. He had claimed that the Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa had promised to open the corridor for pilgrims. Sidhu had to face a lot of criticism from opposition for his visit.
The Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) also welcomed the initiative taken by Union government on Thursday. In a statement, SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal said, “It is great that Union government has decided to construct Kartarpur corridor to the Pakistan border. It is great moment for Sikh community. Our long time pending demand has met.”
He added, “We are thankful to Indian government for recognising the Sikh sentiments.” Longowal, however, was in no mood to give any credit to Punjab Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.
“Sidhu only did politics over the Kartarpur corridor. His childish behavior could have badly impacted the demand. SGPC has been raising issue for a long time very sincerely,” he said. Two Cabinet ministers of Punjab, including the legislator from Dera Baba Nanak, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, said they were not pleased at the Kartarpur Sahib corridor announcement.
“I am glad that this years old issue between two warring nations has been sorted….but the announcement of development and building of corridor by Centre is nothing but an attempt to hog credit. I, being the legislator from there, already got the road laid from Dera Baba Nanak to the border. It is just a two-km stretch. What will the Centre do to the road where there is already a corridor existing on our side. I invite them to come and visit my constituency. They can see the gurdwara with binoculars and reach the end of the road on this side of the border.”
Another Cabinet Minister Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, who is a legislator from Randhawa’s neighbouring constituency, said a motorable road already exists there.
“If the Prime Minister wanted to do something in this regard, he should have announced a four-lane road from Dera Baba Nanak to Delhi,” he said.