Senior Congress leader Pratap Singh Bajwa Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate talks with Pakistan to transfer the Dera Baba Nanak-Kartarpur Sahib corridor to India in return for an alternate piece of land.
Senior Congress leader Pratap Singh Bajwa Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate talks with Pakistan to transfer the Dera Baba Nanak-Kartarpur Sahib corridor to India in return for an alternate piece of land. In a letter to the prime minister, the Rajya Sabha MP of the Congress asked him to show his commitment to Sikhs across the country and give a “worthy gift” to them on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism – Guru Nanak Dev, that falls next year.
“It is my request that you, Sir, initiate bilateral talks with Pakistan on this issue and propose to transfer the Dera Baba Nanak-Kartarpur Sahib corridor to India, in return for an alternate piece of land,” he told the prime minister in his letter.
Bajwa, a former president of the Punjab Congress, said such a deal has historical precedent as in 1962, India swapped land for the area around Hussainiwala in Punjab, which housed the cremation site of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.
“I offer this as an alternative to visa-free access, so as to negate any national security concerns that may arise. I beseech you – show your commitment to Sikhs across India, give them a gift worthy of the occasion and ensure that Sikhs from across the world can come together and celebrate.
“I offer my help in this noble endeavour, in any capacity you may need,” he wrote.
The Congress MP said this is an urgent matter of great sentimental and symbolic value to Sikhs across the world. He said ever since the partition, Sikhs on the Indian side of the border have been unable to celebrate the anniversary to its fullest with a visit to Kartarpur Sahib.
The shrine is located just 2 miles across the international border and this is where Guru Nanak Dev had spent 18 years of his life, he said.
“Every year, pilgrims flock to the ‘Shaktisthal’, an elevated platform erected at Dera Baba Nanak (district Gurdaspur) on the Indo-Pak border, so that they can catch a glimpse of Kartarpur Sahib. There have even been proposals to install high-powered binoculars.
“It pains me to see such desperation in the eyes of the faithful. Guru Nanak stood for compassion and universal brotherhood and we must honour his memory and put aside our differences to ensure everyone can share in his glory,” he said.
Bajwa said on December 8, 2011 he had raised the issue in the Lok Sabha and is now bringing it to the prime minister’s knowledge.