Chandigarh, Nov 22 : Former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday welcomed the initiative of the NDA government to build and develop a modern and state-of-the-art corridor to facilitate pilgrims to offer prayers at the Kartarpur gurdwara in Pakistan where the first Sikh guru, Nanak Dev, spent the last 18 years of his life.
“This is indeed a befitting tribute to the great Guru Nanak Dev ji’s cosmic vision transcending all kinds of barriers among human beings of different castes, creeds and countries,” Badal, who has been Punjab chief minister five times, said in a statement.
Badal said the NDA government’s formal request to its Pakistani counterpart “should decisively remove all hurdles in the path of fulfilling the long-cherished dream and the daily prayers of every Sikh to pay obeisance at the historic gurdwara”.
Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Badal said: “This is their historic and unprecedented tribute to the Sikh sentiments contained in our daily ‘ardas’ seeking unrestricted ‘darshan deedar’ and ‘seva sambhal’ of all historic shrines from which the Sikh community was weaned away following the Partition of India in 1947.”
Badal also appealed to the Government of Pakistan to reciprocate the Indian government’s initiative and respect the sentiments of the Sikhs.
Badal recalled that in 1999, then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had taken up the matter regarding the Kartarpur corridor with the Pakistan government but did not get a response.
On Thursday the Union cabinet had approved construction and development of Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the international border with Pakistan.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also welcomed the centre’s decision to celebrate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
“The move would facilitate lakhs of pilgrims desirous of visiting the Kartarpur gurdwara. Hoping that the Pakistan government would also supplement the effort by opening the corridor on its side of the boundary,” Amarinder said in a statement here.
Amarinder 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.