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VP, Punjab CM lay foundation stone for Kartarpur corridor

Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdaspur):  As India and Pakistan relations take a nose-dive every day, an ironic bonhomie, which is characteristic to the relations between the two neighbours, was witnessed today as Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Monday laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor, which will facilitate easy passage to Sikh pilgrims to the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.

The foundation stone laying ceremony was inaugurated with the sprinkling of holy water brought from the Golden Temple’s Har ki Pauri, in a metal matka covered with bright red cloth brought  by Amritsar MP Gurjit Singh Aujla. Blessings of the Sant Samaaj and members of other religious & social organisations, were sought for the success of the project.

Earlier in a pandal created at a  little distance , amidst Shabad (holy hymns) from  Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib and fragrance of marigolds in lemon and a dominant saffron color, the township of Dera Baba Nanak saw the inauguration of first ever India Pakistan corridor to historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwawa in Narowal,  Pakistan.

Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara is merely 3 Kms away from Dera Baba Nanak side in Indian Punjab's Gurdaspur District.

Captain Amarinder, suggested that passage through the corridor should be visa free, he urged publicly to Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari present on the occasion, to his proposal to construct a grand Kartarpur Gate to be called Kartarpur Dwaar within the corridor entry to the historic shrine, which he said would stand out as a monumental symbol to commemorate the 550th Prakash Purb of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji.

The Corridor is likely to start functioning by next Gurupurub. The CM  announced that he will accompany the first jatha from the corridor to Kartarpur, although he declined to go to Pakistan for the inauguration slated for November 28.

The eventful occasion was also graced by Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore, who, along with Naidu and Captain Amarinder, planted saplings to symbolically mark Punjab government’s mission to plant 550 trees to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary celebration of the founder Guru.

Political one-upmanship was evident as both ruling Congress and the SAD-BJP vied for credits on this historic occasion. It was the first time that rival political parties shared a common stage.

The decision to build the passage -- from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the International Border -- was taken by the Union Cabinet on November 22.

Kartarpur is located in Shakargarh in Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab. Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, had spent more than 18 years of his life there.

The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara is located on the banks of the Ravi river, about three-four km from the border in Pakistan.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said the corridor construction work will be completed within four months.

Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Hardeep Singh Puri and Vijay Sampla were also present at the event.

The Punjab government had launched year-long celebrations to commemorate the 550th 'Parkash Purb' (birth anniversary) of Guru Nanak Dev on November 23.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor on the Pakistani side on November 28.

Mehbooba wants Kartarpur like initiatives in Kashmir

Srinagar: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti Monday said instead of violence and bloodshed, the Kashmir problem can be resolved through "Kartarpur like initiatives".

"Bold, honest and humanitarian initiatives are needed to resolve Jammu and Kashmir problem. It is worthwhile to witness that Kartarpur corridor was opened on a day when so many human lives were taken by terrorism in Mumbai in 2009 (2008)," the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief said.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor, which will facilitate easy passage to Sikh pilgrims to the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.

The decision to build the passage -- from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the International Border -- was taken by the Union Cabinet on November 22.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor on the Pakistani side on November 28.

Mehbooba further said in the statement, the decision taken by Pakistan is appreciable and the same was reciprocated with grace and statesmanship by the leadership of our country.

“By taking the decision of opening the Kartarpur corridor, country's leadership has exhibited statesmanship that too when electoral exercise is on,” she added.

"It has given us an idea that electoral considerations cannot any longer hold back the governments from taking decisions that are aimed to improve the ties between two countries," she said.

The PDP chief also pitched for the opening of Sharda shrine corridor in Kashmir across the Line of Control where Hindu devotees and pilgrims could go without hassle.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the opening of Uri-Muzafarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot routes for the people were a big achievements, she stressed.

Condemning the recent killings in Kashmir, Mehbooba said as the wounds inflicted by past violence were still fresh, nine more people were killed this week in the Valley.

Urging the youth to shun the path of violence, she said there were solutions available within the democratic and diplomatic space.

Expressing deep sense of loss for the continuing bloodshed which included teenage gunmen, civilians and armed forces, the PDP chief said each one of them counts for a tragedy at an individual level.

The people at the helm should adopt humanitarian approach in resolving the crises which loom large over the state, Mehbooba said.

"Trigger-happy approach will not solve the Jammu and Kashmir problem. Confidence building measures, dialogue and reconciliation are the only ways that could protect the state from an apocalypse," she added.

… KP’s demand corridor to Sharda Temple

Jammu, Nov 26: A Kashmiri Pandits’ body Monday demanded a corridor to the Sharda Devi Temple in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir on the lines of one proposed to Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Narowal district in Pakistan.

All Party Migrant Coordination Committee (APMCC) of displaced Kashmiri Pandits raised the demand on the day Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu along with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid the foundation stone at Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur district for the corridor to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara.

APMCC chief Vinood Pandita and its members have been batting for reopening of the temple for the past 10 years and have even sat on fast unto death for it -- once in Jammu and for a second time at Porbonder in Gujarat. The two fasts had lasted 10 to 15 days each.

They had earlier also undertaken a Yatra to the temple and had marched up to the last point Sharda Teon on this side of the Line of Control en route the temple.

"We welcome the government's decision on building the corridor to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara to facilitate easy passage to Sikh pilgrims. We want the government to take similar steps to create a corridor to Sharda Devi Temple as well to facilitate Hindu pilgrims reach there," Pandita told reporters here.

The decision to build the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara corridor, which would facilitate the Sikh pilgrims to visit and return from the shrine without any passport or travel document the same day, was taken by the Union Cabinet on November 22.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is slated to hold the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor on the Pakistani side on November 28.

On similar lines, a corridor to Sharda Devi Temple too can be built across the two sides of the LoC between Tweetwal and Sharda, which are hardly few kilometers apart, the APMCC chief said.

Pandita, who earlier also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to pursue the cause, said the Centre should take this step as a confidence-building measure for the displaced community of Kashmir.

Even PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti pitched Monday for building a corridor to the temple.

Sharada Peeth is an abandoned temple located in the Sharda village along the Neelam River across the LoC. It was a major centre of learning and is regarded as one of the 18 highly-revered temples across South Asia. It was also a major centre of learning at par with the ancient seats of learning at Nalanda and Taxila.

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