The Punjab Assembly passed a resolution on Friday, suggesting the swapping of land with Pakistan to bring the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara across the border within the Indian territory.
The resolution was initially aimed at praising the efforts of the Punjab government and the Centre for opening a cross-border passage to facilitate Indian Sikh pilgrims in visiting the gurdwara on the banks of Ravi river in Pakistan.
But Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, during a discussion on the resolution in the House, demanded that land swap with Pakistan be made a part of the resolution.
The House accepted it and passed the resolution unanimously.
Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, MLA from Dera Baba Nanak, from where the corridor is proposed to start, suggested land from his constituency could be handed over to Pakistan in the swap.
The assembly also urged the Centre to complete the work for opening the corridor before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November 2019. The founder of Sikhism is believed to have spent 18 years at the gurdwara and opening a cross-border corridor was a long-pending demand of Sikhs.
India laid the foundation stone of the corridor on November 26 and Pakistan did it two days later.
During the discussion in the House, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh slammed the Pakistan Army, raising questions on its intention to open the corridor and also for trying to revive terrorism in the state.
He warned state political parties against its “ulterior motives”.
“Do you really think that the Pakistan Army is our sympathiser when it is continuously killing our soldiers at the border with the ultimate aim of destabilising the border state,” he said, referring to the leaders in the assembly and urged them to contribute to maintaining peace in Punjab.
“Why did Pakistan Army chief broke news about the corridor even before the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan? What was his interest?” he said.
Singh had refused to visit Pakistan for the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor, citing terrorist attacks by Pakistan-backed terrorists in India and killing of Indian soldiers on the Kashmir border.
But his Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu had attended the ceremony. Singh did not take Sidhu’s name during the discussion in the House on Friday.
The chief minister, however, said he hopes the corridor would become a “bridge of peace” and reiterated he would accompany the first ‘Jatha’ to Kartarpur next year.
“I want to congratulate the Pakistan prime minister (on the decision to open the corridor). My only request to him is that you are a newly elected prime minister and people have high hopes from him; he should rein in his army,” Singh said.
Though Congress leaders shared Singh’s concern about Pakistan Army’s designs to revive militancy in Punjab, opposition leaders said there should be no “negativity” on the Kartarpur corridor issue.
“It is a historic resolution and we unanimously support it. But there should not be any negativity. Terrorists do not have religion and they only follow their mission. It is the government of India which will ensure foolproof security,” said SAD chief Badal.
Akali leader Gurpartap Singh Wadala said there should be no room for scepticism on the issue. AAP MLA Kultar Singh Sandhwan praised Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for pushing for the opening of the corridor.
However, BJP legislator Som Prakash said the chief minister’s fears cannot be overlooked. He said Pakistan has never been sincere in mending ties with India and cited terrorist attacks in Kashmir, Pathankot and Mumbai.
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