(Eds: Recasting intro, adding more quotes) Chandigarh, Dec 3 (PTI) The Punjab Cabinet Monday noted the “persistent efforts” of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in raising the matter pertaining to the opening of the Kartarpur corridor.
The cabinet, in a meeting on Monday, under the chairmanship of Singh, also passed a special resolution hailing the building of the corridor as a “historic step”.
The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur – the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev – with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district.
On November 26, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor at Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.
A spokesperson said the cabinet noted the “persistent efforts” by Singh, which had culminated in the momentous decision to open the corridor.
After the meeting, state minister for Housing and Rural Development Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa told reporters that it was Amarinder Singh who raised the Kartarpur corridor issue when he went to Pakistan in 2002.
“In 2002, Amarinder Singh went to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan where he raised the issue of Kartarpur corridor,” he said.
Bajwa, an Amarinder Singh loyalist, also said then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his successor Manmohan Singh had also taken up the issue of opening of Kartarpur corridor.
When reporters pointed out that Punjab Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu too had pitched for the opening of Kartarpur corridor, Bajwa said, “The media is suffering from Sidhu phobia. He (Sidhu) is one of crores of people who used to pray for Kartarpur corridor.” Expressing doubt over the building of corridor by the Pakistan government, he said, “The kind of statements Pakistan ministers, like their foreign minister, are making, it is yet not certain that it (corridor) will become a reality.” Notably, Sidhu had earlier raised the Kartarpur corridor issue with External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
He courted controversy by hugging Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa during his visit to Islamabad to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan as that country’s premier in August. Sidhu had claimed that the Pakistan Army chief had told him about “making efforts to open the Kartarpur corridor.” The spokesperson said the laying of the foundation stone for the corridor paved the way for devotees to visit the historic Kartarpur Gurdwara in Pakistan, a long-pending demand of the Punjabis.
The Punjab council of ministers passed another special resolution to set up a Dera Baba Nanak Development Authority for the development and beautification of the area in and around Dera Baba Nanak ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism.
“For the development of 13 villages of Dera Baba Nanak, a development authority will be set up. This authority will be under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh with local MLA, MP and the housing minister being the members,” Bajwa said.
The chief minister has already announced a slew of development projects to upgrade infrastructure and other facilities for the pilgrims expected to visit the area during the of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, for which year-long celebrations were kicked off by the Punjab government on November 23.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.