Pakistan says no construction on land cultivated by Guru Nanak at Kartarpur Sahib
Chandigarh, March 20: Pakistan would not construct any building on the land cultivated by Guru Nanak Dev at Kartarpur Sahib where the founder of the Sikh Faith spent his last more than seventeen years.
Significantly, Pakistan has credited the decision to the request made by Indian Punjab’s local bodies minister and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu.
The announcement to this effect was made by Pakistan’s information minister Chaudhary Fawad Hussain.
He said the decision to exempt 30 acres of land adjoining Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur Sahib was taken at a meeting on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
It may be mentioned that both India and Pakistan have acceded to the request of the Sikhs to allow direct access to Kartarpur Sahib from Dera Baba Nanak for which about 4 km corridor is to be constructed. Pakistan started the construction within no time of the decision having been taken while land is still to be acquired on the Indian side. Major portion of the corridor including 800-mt bridge on Ravi is to be constructed on the Pakistani side.
Chaudhary Hussain said the request for preserving the area exclusively for farming was made by Novjot Singh Sidhu in a letter to the Government of Pakistan. According to the reports in Pakistani papers, the meeting reviewed progress on development work at the Kartarpur Sahib corridor. The PM was given a detailed briefing by Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) on the work undertaken thus far.
Sidhu had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan premier Imran Khan in January last to declare this land as no-construction zone to preserve sanctity and Sikh heritage.
“The sacredness and serenity of Kartarpur Sahib and Dera Baba Nanak Gurdwara Sahib await the footfalls of our pilgrims. Yet precisely our footfalls have the power to erode the history, architecture and ecology of these sites,” Sidhu had written in his letters.
He had suggested that the land where Guru Nanak Dev spent more than17 years of his life be declared a “heritage village”.
Sidhu suggested that no concrete structures be built around the gurdwara.
Sidhu is personal friend of Imran Khan and he has been under attack in India precisely on this very issue. He has been advocating dialogue with Pakistan. He differs with Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh too.
The move to accede the Sikh demand for corridor was conveyed by Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to Sidhu at the inauguration of Imran Khan.
Pakistan had played the Sikh card very subtly as tension between the two hostile neighbours was on the rise.
It is in this context that reference to Sidhu by Pakistan authorities while making this announcement about preserving the land is important.
There is yet another important aspect. The Sikhs are turning sensitive about preservation of their heritage after it has been destroyed in India by the community itself. There no gurdwara that depicts the original architecture as monster marble structures have replaced the old gurdwaras.
Sikhs are not sensitive even to the preservation of the Golden Temple whose originality too has been damaged. This has happened during the last about 10 years.