Modi flags off 1st pilgrimage to Kartarpur

Dera Baba Nanak (Punjab), Nov 9 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday thanked his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan for respecting the sentiments of India as he flagged off the first pilgrimage to Darbar Sahib in Pakistan after inaugurating the Kartarpur Corridor here.

In the first-of its-kind occasion in seven decades, Modi sent the first lot of 500 pilgrims to visit Darbar Sahib, also called Kartarpur Sahib, the last resting place of first Sikh Guru Nanak Dev, in Narowal district in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

“Visit to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib will become easy now,” Modi said at the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration event before opening the state-of-the-art Integrated Check Post for the corridor that connects Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district with the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara across the border in Pakistan.

The corridor was inaugurated ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, which falls on November 12.

“I thank all who have been associated with the construction of the corridor,” Modi said, adding that he also thanked “Imran Khan for understanding Indian sentiments with respect to the Kartarpur Corridor and worked in that direction within the timeframe”.

Donning a saffron turban, Modi, in his half-an-hour address at the function organised by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), said the corridor and the Integrated Check Post would serve thousands of devotees daily.

“It is my honour to have inaugurated the corridor today. Guru Nanak’s teachings are being translated into various languages so that the next generation can also be enriched by them. We must vow to imbibe the preachings of Guru Nanak, which are still relevant,” Modi, who was bestowed with the ‘Kaumi Seva Puraskar’ by the SGPC, said.

“Every Sikh Guru, starting from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, has made efforts for the unity, defence and security of India. It is this tradition which has been carried forward by the Sikhs in the Independence struggle and thereafter in protecting the country,” the Prime Minister said.

Expressing gratitude to UNESCO for helping in spreading the message of Guru Nanak Dev, Modi said that after the abrogation of Article 370, Sikh families in Jammu and Kashmir could also exercise rights like other Sikhs across the country to visit Kartarpur Sahib.

Modi also released a commemorative coin and stamp in the honour of Guru Nanak Dev.

Before flagging off the first batch of ‘jatha’ (delegation) led by Akal Takhat Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, Modi and other leaders partook ‘langar’ (community kitchen) along with Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore and state Congress President Sunil Jakhar.

The first batch of pilgrims included former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, former Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Modi briefly interacted with Manmohan Singh, who was accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur.

Members of the SGPC and all the 117 legislators and MPs from Punjab were also part of the delegation.

Earlier in the day, Modi paid obeisance at the highly revered Sikh shrine in Sultanpur Lodhi.

Wearing a saffron scarf, Modi spent time at the Gurdwara Ber Sahib located along the banks of the holy ‘Bein’, which is connected with many events in the life of Guru Nanak Dev.

Modi was received by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Union minister Harsimrat Badal.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the Sikh community on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev and said that the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor was a testimony to Pakistan’s commitment to regional peace.

He inaugurated the corridor in Punjab province in Pakistan.

“Want to congratulate those worked on the corridor,” Geo News quoted Khan as saying while addressing the inauguration ceremony in Kartarpur.


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