Modi government should clarify formal stand on Kartarpur Sahib corridor

Jagtar Singh

Punjab Update Bureau

Chandigarh, September 19: As the cacophony over corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to Kartarpur Sahib across the border in Pakistan becomes shriller, the Narendra Modi government is still to spell out its stand on this demand of the Sikhs to have free access to the shrine where Guru Nanak Dev spent last seventeen years of his life.

Although this corridor has been part of the religio-political discourse in Punjab for more than a decade, the demand has intensified in the context of forthcoming 550th anniversary celebrations of birth of Guru Nanak Dev. His birth place Nankana Sahib too is in Pakistan.

The Pakistan foreign office today stated: “No formal communication with India on Kartarpur corridor. Pakistan remains open and positive.” It is the second part of the brief statement that is important.

This was what Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had conveyed to Indian Punjab’s local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu when they hugged at swearing in ceremony of Imran Khan. Now Sidhu is being attacked as a Pakistani agent working for ISI, both by the BJP and its alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal.

However, India is yet to clarify its formal stand on this issue that has turned controversial.

Food processing minister Harsimrat kaur Badal today tweeted after Pakistan’s formal stand:

19/09/18, 3:14 PM

The man who can lie in name of Guru Nanak deserves the harshest condemnation! After Pak’s MoFA statement declining any communication with India in Kartarpur Sahab corridor issue, what answer will ⁦‪@RahulGandhi⁩ & ⁦‪@sherryontopp⁩ give to Sikhs and to Guru Nanak? They must answer.

This corridor to Kartarpur Sahib is the demand of the Sikhs in Indian Punjab and not of Pakistani Punjab and as such, it is India that has to formally take up the issue with Pakistan and not vice versa.

In this entire deafening noise, none from the BJP or the Akali Dal has spelled out the stand of the Modi government.

It is this basic aspect that is being side-tracked.

Sidhu has recently called upon external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj with a request to expedite the issue. However, no formal statement has been issued by Government of India so far.

The BSF officials recently hinted that there were security considerations.

There has also been demand that some villages across river Ravi should be swapped with Kartarpur Sahib as was done in case of Hussainiwala where the bodies of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were cremated. This area had been transferred to Pakistan in 1947 and swapped in 1962.

The latest is rationalisation of border with Bangladesh.

Land swapping can take care of several aspects.

The dirty politics that is being played out over this emotive religious  issue should stop.

Can the political class unitedly take up such issues with the centre?

Here is the test case.

But more important dimension is the formal stand of the Modi government on this demand that is either corridor to link Dera Baba Nanak to Kartarpur Sahib or land swapping.

Jagtar Singh


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