Chandigarh: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu will lay the foundation stone for the construction of Dera Baba Nanak-Kartarpur Sahib road corridor up to the international border with Pakistan in Mann village in Gurdaspur on Monday. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will be present on the occasion. (Also read: Sushma Swaraj Snubs Sidhu For ‘Messing up’ Kartarpur Corridor Issue)
The Centre decided to go ahead with the construction of the Kartarpur road corridor as an integrated development project to mark Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th birth anniversary this year. Apart from the representation from the Union Cabinet, the event will also see leaders and workers of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) taking part in the ceremony.
In a statement, SAD senior vice president and spokesperson Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said, “This is an auspicious occasion for everybody who believes in the way to God shown by our great Guru Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji as a long-standing demand of the Sikh community has been fulfilled due to a bold initiative taken by the NDA Government at the Centre.”
While Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has declined Pakistan’s invite to attend the ground-breaking ceremony on the other side of the border, his Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu has accepted the request with “with unalloyed joy”. In a letter to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Singh said it is a historic occasion, but regretted his inability to be present, citing terror attacks in his state and killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistan troops as the reason.
Meanwhile, Sidhu has written to Qureshi, accepting his invitation for the ground-breaking ceremony, where Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will also be present. “It is with great honour and unalloyed joy that I accept your invitation to attend the ground-breaking ceremony at Kartarpur Sahib on November 28. I look forward to meeting you on this historic occasion,” Sidhu wrote to Qureshi.
Pakistan has welcomed India’s decision to send its two Union ministers to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor, terming it a “positive response”.
Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has responded to Pakistan’s invitation and said no minister should accept it. While adding that it was a normalising process, Swamy said nobody should be allowed to go since diplomats were being prevented from accompanying people.
Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district. It was established by the Sikh Guru in 1522. The first Gurdwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, was built here, where Guru Nanak Dev is said to have died. Both India and Pakistan have announced that stretches would be developed in their respective areas, linking Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district with the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.