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Visiting Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan a lifetime wish!

The shrine was closed to people coming from across India’s border after the partition in 1947.

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Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan Muslim to holy Mecca.

Dera Baba Nanak (Punjab), Nov 10 : For a Sikh visiting Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan is like fulfilling the one lifetime wish of a Muslim to pay obeisance in holy Mecca.

This was the hope of almost every Sikh settled across the globe to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, situated just a few kilometres from the Indian border in Narowal district.

The shrine, originally known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, is among the holiest of holy shrines and is believed to be the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh religion, whose 550th birth anniversary falls on November 12.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Kartarpur Corridor on Saturday when the first lot of 550 Indian pilgrims, led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, visited the holy shrine across the border.

“The Kartarpur Corridor is an auspicious link between two nations,” Chandigarh-based Indo-Pak peace activist and journalist Chanchal Manohar Singh told IANS over phone from Lahore.

He said opening of the border by Pakistan from the Indian side for visiting devotees from across the globe has been a big achievement since both nations separated in 1947.

“Since the propaganda of hate by vested people on both sides, we are fortunate to see direct link between two historically important Sikh shrines — Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak and Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara,” Singh added.

The sacred shrine of Kartarpur Sahib is built on the historic site where Guru Nanak Dev settled after his ‘Udasian’ (missionary travels) and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539.

The original structure of the Kartarpur Sahib was once destroyed by floods. It was reconstructed by Bhupinder Singh, the then scion of Patiala and grandfather of current Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

The shrine was closed to people coming from across India’s border after the partition in 1947.

The gurdwara was opened to pilgrims after repairs and restoration in 1999, and Sikh ejathas’ have been visiting the shrine regularly ever since.

A 500-year-old well, believed to have been built during the lifetime of Guru Nanak Dev, was discovered near the Kartarpur gurdwara in April.

The well was discovered while digging the enclosure of the shrine.

Sikh ejathas’ from India travel to Pakistan on four occasions every year — Baisakhi, the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev.

Before the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, Pakistani authorities normally clear the tall grass from time to time, enabling the devotees from India to view the shrine with the help of a telescope.

The Indian devotees, especially the Sikhs, have been demanding a visa-free “khule darshan” (free obeisance facility) at the gurdwara for all faiths, from India and overseas, all seven days a week by crossing the international border from Dera Baba Nanak town in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district.

Keeping mind the huge sentiment of people of Punjab, India first proposed the Kartarpur Sahib corridor in 1999 when the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took a bus ride to Lahore.

However, it did not make much progress before last year when the proposal was renewed and given a push by India.

Pakistan agreed to the proposal and foundation stones were laid for the corridor on both sides of the border in November last year.

India and Pakistan last month signed an agreement to operationalise the 4.2 km Kartarpur Corridor to allow Indian pilgrims a visa free day-long visit on foot to the holy Darbar Sahib.

However, the ticklish issue of a $20 service fee imposed by Islamabad remained unresolved.

(Vishal Gulati can be reached at [email protected])

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Rajasthan crisis: The story of a nose-diving Pilot and soaring Gehlot!

Pilot stood like a wall between Gehlot and his men and hence, it was expected that he will be shunted out as Rajasthan PCC chief.

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PILOT and SCINDIA

Jaipur, July 12 : The greed of Ashok Gehlot to keep his power intact and the hunger of Sachin Pilot to stay strong in the larger picture is the reason for the tussle which triggered the Congress crisis in Rajasthan.

Since the Congress party formed its government in Rajasthan, there were two power circles created, one being led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and other by Sachin Pilot.

While Congress stands at 101, the BJP and its alliance with RLD had 75 MLAs. Looking at the thin strength, Gehlot played his magic and brought 13 independents under his fold. Later, 6 BSP MLAs merged with Congress.

Surprisingly, Pilot, despite being PCC chief, was kept out and was informed about the developments the next day via the media. This was just the beginning. The files of his department (PWD) were sent back by Finance (under Gehlot) quoting reasons for fund crisis.

Even the ministers of his camp were facing challenges and were receiving back files from bureaucrats quoting “Please Discuss”.

During the Covid crisis, Gehlot was busy calling video conferences with health and other departments, however, Pilot was never part of the meetings.

Pilot camp sources said that the Deputy CM wanted the entire Congress team on ground, however, Gehlot was more interested in making his larger picture and hence centralised the operations during corona.

Even on his father Rajesh Pilot”s death anniversary on June 11, when Pilot and team was about to go to Dausa to pay floral tributes, the police officials called Pilot and asked him to stay away from visiting Dausa as section 144 was imposed in the town in the wake of covid-19.

“They were busy holding meetings, camping in Marriott to prevent MLA poaching, but Pilot was intentionally stopped from visiting Dausa as it could have been his show of strength as many MLAs wanted to visit there,” said an MLA from Pilot”s team. Even the home department is looked after by Gehlot.

Further, the challenge started appearing grave when Pilot wanted Congress grassroots workers to get tickets for ensuing panchayat and corporation polls while Gehlot wanted to favour his closest. Also for political appointments, the CM wanted the BSP and independent MLAs to get plum posts while Pilot wanted them to be kept for Congress workers.

Pilot stood like a wall between Gehlot and his men and hence, it was expected that he will be shunted out as Rajasthan PCC chief.

“However, Pilot wanted to continue his term as PCC chief but was not interested in reading files as minister. The deadlock continued and when he was defamed many times by Gehlot camp in one or the other way, he then decided to bring in the high command into the picture and show his strength and that”s why this is happening now,” said a source.

It”s more like a door-die situation for Pilot but hopefully the Congress high command wakes up from its slumber said a PCC worker who told IANS that the party seems to be crumbling in the state with the deadlock. “We look dead and if things don”t improve, our party will be declared dead.”

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Range-bound: Rupee caught between higher inflows, swelling reserves

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rupee dollar

Mumbai, July 11 : The Indian rupee has been caught in a flux of higher FDI inflows and swelling foreign exchange reserves, thereby restricting its future movement around the Rs 75 per US dollar mark.

Analysts opined that the rupee is caught between higher foreign inflows and the Reserve Bank of India”s efforts to shore up reserves.

Even a lower import bill and stable exports do not seem enough for the rupee to break free from its current range.

“With the RBI continually increasing its forex reserves and investment in dollar via forward contracts, a floor seems to be place below Rs 75 levels on spot,” Anindya Banerjee, DVP, Currency and Rates, Kotak Securities, told IANS.

“The upside is also capped due to improving sentiments in the equity and bond markets. All in all, we are looking at a range of Rs 74.80 to Rs 75.80 over the next few weeks, with volatility remaining at a low.”

According to Sajal Gupta, Head, Forex and Rates, Edelweiss Securities: “The rupee appreciated swiftly to Rs 74.52 per dollar due to large FDI flows and rising equity markets and then weakened to Rs 75.20 on the back of the RBI”s efforts to mop up dollars to shore up reserves which stand at a record high of $513 billion dollars.”

“India is expected to see a Balance of Payment surplus of $60 billion this year due to lower crude price and falling imports. It is a big surprise that amid such strong FDI inflows, the rupee is still not strengthening as the RBI is mopping up all dollars to the reserves.”

Besides, he pointed out that imports have slowed down at a faster pace as domestic economy looks weaker compared with global markets.

Presently, India”s foreign exchange reserves increased by $6.416 billion during the week ended July 3.

The reserves grew to $513.254 billion from $506.838 billion reported for the week ended June 26.

Last month, official data showed India posted a marginal current account surplus in Q4FY20 on the back of a lower trade deficit, along with higher remittances, and an increase in investment flows.

The current account is the net difference between inflows and outflows of foreign currencies.

On the quarterly basis, the current account balance recorded a marginal surplus of $0.6 billion (0.1 per cent of GDP) in Q4 of 2019-20 as against a deficit of $4.6 billion (0.7 per cent of GDP) in Q4 of 2018-19 and $2.6 billion (0.4 per cent of GDP) in the preceding quarter of Q3 of FY20.

At present, India”s exports are steadily moving towards normalcy.

“Going ahead, we expect the caution surrounding the impact and duration of the novel coronavirus may keep all riskier assets on an edge, including the rupee. We see USD/INR trading between Rs 74.75-Rs 75.75,” said Rahul Gupta, Head of Research — Currency, Emkay Global Financial Services.

“Only heavy inflows may cap the upside in USD/INR spot. We recommend exporters to wait for better hedging levels as we expect the spot to appreciate; however, they can start hedging their receivables once USD/INR spot falls below Rs 75.”

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at [email protected])

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Did Vikas Dubey reach Ujjain himself or was he brought there?

After Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra announced his arrest, the Congress is raising questions.

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Vikas Dubey.

Ujjain/Bhopal, July 9 : After gangster Vikas Dubey, who had been on the run for the last seven days, was arrested in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain on Thursday morning, a controversy erupted over how he managed to reach the temple town. Questions have been raised whether he came on his own or was brought here, and also as to how he manage to cross many districts of Uttar Pradesh without being recognised.

Dubey, accused of killing eight police men in Bikaru village of Kanpur, was constantly changing his location for the past seven days. Though the Uttar Pradesh Police continued to raid various possible locations, he still reached Ujjain, dodging the police of several districts of UP and Madhya Pradesh.

Dubey, whose in-laws are also from Madhya Pradesh, has been coming to Ujjain every year. His mother Sarala Devi had admitted that he used to go to Ujjain every year to offer prayers at Mahakaal temple. It is being said that he reached Ujjain by road and also offered prayers at the temple on Thursday morning.

After Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra announced his arrest, the Congress is raising questions.

Police sources said that Dubey came to Ujjain in a car from Uttar Pradesh and he also stopped at a residence of a person known to him in Nagjhiri area where he stayed for some time. He reached the temple for ”darshan” on Thursday morning. However, the security guards posted at the temple got suspicious and stopped him for questioning. He reportedly had a brief scuffle with the security guards who then informed the police post. Dubey was later arrested there.

But if Dubey did actually come to Ujjain by road, then he must have covered a distance of about 200 km in Madhya Pradesh seemingly without attracting police attention. Before entering Madhya Pradesh, he must have passed through several districts of Uttar Pradesh as well. Apprehension has been expressed that he reached Ujjain via Rajasthan”s Kota. The police is investigating this also.

Mishra said that Dubey came to Ujjain driving his own vehicle. “Two of his accomplices — Bittu and Suresh have also been arrested. The entire state police was on alert after the Kanpur incident. The surveillance was carried out and finally MP police succeeded in arresting him.”

However, questioning the government, Congress Rajya Sabha member and former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh said: “It looks like a sponsored surrender to avoid an encounter by the Uttar Pradesh Police. My information is that this has been possible with the courtesy of a senior leader of Madhya Pradesh BJP.”

However, it was not immediately known whether Dubey reached Ujjain on Thursday morning itself or had come a day before.

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