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January 14, 2019

Modi stakes claim for Kartarpur Corridor opening


January 14, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has staked the claim for taking credit of opening up of Kartarpur Corridor as he ‘flagged the corridor as an achievement of his government.’

He released a commemorative coin Sunday to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru at his official residence in New Delhi. It was attended by former Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and other Sikh dignitaries.

According to media reports, Modi said that the followers of Guru Nanak ji now won’t have to look through a telescope for darshan (view) of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, one of the holiest Sikh shrines, where Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years of his life.

With Dr Singh in the audience, Modi targeted Dr Singh’s Congress party on multiple fronts, saying the Sikh gurus “taught us to be on the side of justice.” The central government, he said, is “trying to get justice for the people who suffered during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.”

Sikhs have regarded the conviction of former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as a case of delayed justice. Around 3,000 Sikhs were killed in Delhi in the days after then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. Claiming that the “mistake” of 1947 has been rectified, Modi said that the “most significant Sikh shrine” was “just a few kilometres away but even then it was ignored,” and as an act of “atonement”, the central government is helping build the road link to Kartarpur.

Pakistan has expressed hopes that the Kartarpur Corridor will lead to bilateral talks, but Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said a dialogue between the two nations is not connected with only the Kartarpur corridor.

In December, while campaigning for the assembly elections in Rajasthan, Narendra Modi had said “correcting the Congress’ mistakes was my destiny.” He alleged that Congress leaders at the time had “no idea about the importance of Guru Nanak Dev” and no respect for Sikh sentiment.

The Indian prime minister described Guru Gobind Singh as a warrior and a poet and said his government now plans to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak across the country. Not only events will be held in the states, Indian embassies abroad will also organise programmes as part of the celebrations.

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