Political parties in India trying to score brownie points on Kartarpur Saheb Corridor
New Delhi, Nov 26: There are many religious places in India and Pakistan where faithful from both the sides of the border want to visit but Kartarpur Saheb has been an important place for Sikhs and proposed corridor will reduce the distance from around 120 kilometres from Lahore to just three kilometres from Dera Baba Nanak Saheb in Gurudaspur district of Indian side of Punjab.
There has been a treaty between the two countries to visit the shrines of both the countries to see if they are properly managed.
Interestingly if Prime Minister Narendra Modi has equated the decision with falling of Berlin wall then Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has given all credit to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. But BJP MP Subramanian Swamy is not only wary of the decision but opposed to this and requested the PM to stop Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur and Hardeep Puri visiting Pakistan for a groundbreaking ceremony. A section is apprehensive that Pakistan can use this opportunity to radicalise Sikhs.
But the Indian government is playing very cautiously in the election year as it does not want to hurt the sentiment of anyone. So minister of external affairs of India Sushma Swaraj politely turned down the offer made by Pakistan's foreign ministry Shah Mahmood Qureshi but deputed two of her colleagues to represent India. Swaraj is apparently not going to Pakistan for the simple reason that cross border terrorism is continuing and Pakistan is now trying to revive terrorism in Punjab as well. This was the reason that Punjab chief minister Capt Amrinder Singh too refused the offer.
Swamy is of the view that proper checks like advance applications and then verifying antecedents need to be done and also wants a complete ban on people from Pakistan in the corridor. For him, Kartarpur passage is dangerous as just a passport is not enough to check. This is to recall that last week Pakistan agreed to open the Kartarpur Corridor for Sikhs on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. The decision came after New Delhi requested Islamabad to construct a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib for Sikh pilgrims to the shrine.
Pakistan has conveyed its decision to India about the opening of the corridor. Imran Khan will perform ground breaking ceremony on November 28, 2018. India also announced building and development of the corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur district to the international border to facilitate pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur.
Kartarpur Sahib is believed to be the first Gurudwara established by the Sikh Guru in 1522 which is situated at the banks of Ravi river in Pakistan nearly three kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab's Gurdaspur district. Actually, Pakistan agreed to allow Sikh pilgrims from India to visit the shrine visa-free in the year 2000 by constructing a bridge from the Indian side of the border to the shrine.
Sidhu on his return from Pakistan in August 2018 after attending swearing in of Imran Khan said that Pakistan Army Chief told him that the Pakistan government would open the Kartarpur Corridor on Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary. Kartarpur is located in Shakargarh in Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab. Guru Nanak Dev had spent more than 18 years of his life there. Sidhu responded to Qureshi accepting his invitation for the ceremony but political slugfest will continue for some more time.