Dera Baba Nanak (Punjab): The foundation stone of a road that will link the border belt of Punjab's Gurdaspur district with the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara corridor was laid in Mann village near here on Monday amid a political controversy over credit for the approval of the project.
Foundation Laid For Road Link To Kartarpur Corridor
Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid the foundation stone of the project on a screen by pressing a button.
The actual foundation stone was removed by the authorities just three hours before the event as Punjab cabinet Minister and Dera Baba Nanak legislator Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa objected to the names of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Union Minister Harsimrat Badal on the stone. A clearly upset Randhawa announced that he would "boycott" the foundation stone ceremony and even went ahead to put a black tape on the stone where the names of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Punjab PWD Minister Vijay Singla and his own (Randhawa) were put.
Officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), sensing that the situation could get unpleasant in the presence of the Vice President and other dignitaries, removed the foundation stone and replaced it with the digital one. The foundation on the screen carried the names of Naidu, Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari. The road would connect the area with the international border (IB) near Dera Baba Nanak. Addressing the gathering on the occasion, Naidu said that the Kartarpur Corridor had the potential of being a historic occasion and bring people of India and Pakistan closer to each other. "Guru Nanak Dev always spread the message of love and peace. This corridor project will bring both countries and their people closer," Naidu said. In his address, Gadkari said that the Kartarpur corridor was a historic step which will help devotees offer prayers at the shrine in Pakistan.
The Punjab Chief Minister thanked Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for enabling the Kartarpur Corridor to become a reality.
Naming Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, he warned the neighbouring country against any misadventure in Punjab by sponsoring terrorism from across the border. "I want to tell Bajwa that what he is trying to do is cowardice. There is no bravery in this. We in Punjab are completely capable of giving a befitting reply to any such misadventure," Amarinder Singh said.
The actual Kartarpur Corrdior will be in Pakistan, extending from the IB till the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in Narowal district of Pakistan. Pakistanis will lay the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor on their side of the border on November 28. Harsimrat Kaur and Puri along with Punjab cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is a friend of Imran Khan, are expected to visit Pakistan on Wednesday for the foundation stone laying ceremony there.
With the governments of India and Pakistan announcing that they will construct the Kartarpur Corridor on their side to enable pilgrims from India to visit the Sikh shrine located in Pakistan -- a long-pending demand of the Sikh community for access to the shrine is close to becoming a reality.
It was at the Kartarpur gurdwara, located around two to three kilometre from the India-Pakistan international border and situated right opposite the border belt in Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur district in India, that Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years of his life till his death in 1539. The gurdwara, which fell in the Pakistani territory following the partition of India in August 1947, has big significance in Sikh religion and history. For the past 71 years, even since partition, Sikhs have been offering prayers near the IB watching the gurdwara from afar. --IANS