Cabinet minister S.S. Randhawa, MLA from Dera Baba Nanak, offers 11,000 acres of land in exchange for the part on which the Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara stands.
Chandigarh: The Punjab legislative assembly has unanimously passed a resolution seeking swapping of land with Pakistan to bring the historic Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib into Indian territory.
Punjab will now take up this demand with the government of India, offering over 11,000 acres of land in exchange for the part on which Kartarpur Sahib stands, on the banks of the Ravi.
Punjab Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, the MLA from Dera Baba Nanak, offered land from his constituency for the purpose. Dera Baba Nanak stands opposite the gurudwara on the Indian side, and is the place from where the Kartarpur Corridor is to be constructed.
The gurudwara is built at the place where Guru Nank, the founder of the Sikh religion, spent the last 18 years of his life. It falls in Narowal district of Pakistani Punjab.
CM moves resolution
On the second and last day of the winter session of the assembly, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh moved a resolution appreciating the efforts put in by the governments of India and Punjab for the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor. The resolution to swap land with Pakistan was added following a discussion, after the demand was put forth by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal.
While appreciating the opening of the corridor, Amarinder reiterated his warning to the Pakistan Army to stop terror activities in Punjab and India. He said he would be the first one to visit the gurdwara through the corridor, provided Pakistan ensured that peace was not compromised on this side of the border.
Reading out from an article written in a national English daily, the chief minister said defence experts too were echoing his words over the opening of the corridor.
“It is a project of the Pakistan Army, not that of Imran Khan (prime minister of Pakistan). Imran Khan was well-intentioned, but the Pakistan Army is not, and we should not fall prey to their sinister designs,” he said.
Not many takers for CM’s misgivings
Amarinder’s stand on the issue was not wholeheartedly appreciated even by his own MLAs. Randhawa thanked him for the resolution but did not repeat his misgivings, while Raj Kumar Verka said peace and love was the only way forward for the two countries, and it was important that India gave peace a chance, and a genuine effort was made.
Another Congress MLA, Harminder Singh Gill, said the misgivings about the corridor reviving terrorism in Punjab were ill-founded. He went on to thank the chief minister as also the Modi government for agreeing to the opening of the corridor.
The opposition also asked the CM to shed his “negativity” over the issue. Badal said the opening of the corridor was a historic step, and everyone who had a role to play should be thanked and their efforts appreciated.
He said “negativity” should be avoided, as it might lead to the project being shelved. He said terror has no religion and even at places where there are no corridors connecting nations, terror acts take place.
“It is a historic development and the government of Punjab should actively collaborate with the government of India to develop the corridor and Kartarpur town,” he said.
SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia said the move to exchange land would undo the historic blunder that happened while British were dividing India.
“Also, land-swapping will take care of the misgivings put forth by Captain Amarinder Singh,” he said.
Opposition bouquets for Navjot Sidhu
Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is singularly credited with taking up the corridor issue with Pakistan in the first place, kept quiet during the discussion on the resolution. However, a host of MLAs — both from the Congress and the opposition — appreciated his efforts.
Akali MLA Gurpratap Singh Wadala said that “everyone who was responsible for making the corridor a reality should be thanked, and that includes Navjot Singh Sidhu”.
Aam Aadmi Party MLA Kultar Singh Sandhwan, while thanking Sidhu, asked the CM to shed the confrontationist approach and work towards getting the two nations to live in peace.
Another AAP MLA, Kanwar Sandhu, pointed out to Amarinder that when he was the chief minister of Punjab from 2002 to 2007, several incidents of terror took place, and yet, he organised friendly games between the two Punjabs.
“If anything, the terror activities have reduced since,” he said, also appreciating the role played by Sidhu.