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Amarinder joins Venkaiah Naidu in laying foundation stone for Kartarpur corridor

Amarinder joins Venkaiah Naidu in laying foundation stone for Kartarpur corridor

(Eds: Ads details, quotes) Gurdaspur (Pb), Nov 26 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Monday joined Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu in laying the foundation stone of Kartarpur corridor, which would facilitate Sikh pilgrims in visiting the 16th-century Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.The gurdwara, on the banks of Ravi river, has historical significance for Sikhs as Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, spent 18 years there. Established by the Sikh Guru in 1522, it is about three-four km from the international border. The opening a corridor to the historical shrine was a long-pending demand of Sikhs.The decision to build the corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the International Border was taken by the Union Cabinet on November 22. Pakistan is to build the corridor on their side and its ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday.The proposal to open the passage for Sikh pilgrims comes at a time when India-Pakistan ties have nosedived and all bilateral engagements postponed following a number of terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups since 2016, including on Pathankot Air Force Station.On November 18, two men on a motorbike hurled a hand grenade on a religious congregation at Nirankari Bhavan in Amritsar, which killed three people and injured more than 20.The Punjab chief minister Singh has blamed terrorist groups backed by Pakistan's spy agency ISI for the attack.At the foundation stone-laying ceremony here, Singh suggested that there should be no visa for pilgrims travelling via the corridor to visit the historic gurdwara in Pakistan.While he has declined to visit Pakistan as of now due to its support to terrorist groups, Singh said he will accompany the first 'jatha' to Kartarpur via the corridor next year.He announced that the Punjab government has decided to construct a grand Kartarpur Gate near the border and said it would stand tall as a monumental symbol to commemorate the 550th 'Prakash Purb' (birth anniversary) of Guru Nanak Dev.He urged Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, who was present at the event, to ensure that the corridor becomes operational by the next Gurpurab (550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev).Gadkari assured Singh that his ministry would try to complete the construction work of the corridor expeditiously.Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore also attended the event. He, along with Naidu and Singh, planted saplings to mark the state government's ambition to plant 550 trees to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of the first Sikh Guru.Singh said the opening of the corridor would lead to the development of the historical town of Dera Baba Nanak. He also thanked the national governments in India and Pakistan for deciding build the corridor on their side of the territory.In a series of tweets, Union minister Arun Jaitley said "this day will be cherished in times to come when pilgrims will regularly visit the holy shrine across the international boarder hassle free.He said Dera Baba Nanak Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib are twin pilgrimage places associated with Sri Guru Nanak Devji."Dera Baba Nanak Sahib & Kartarpur Sahib are twin pilgrimage places associated with Sri Guru Nanak Devji. At Kartarpur Sahib he lived preaching for 18 years and the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib is built in his commemoration," he tweeted.Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Hardeep Singh Puri, Vijay Sampla, Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore, Cabinet Ministers Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Charanjit Singh Channi, Aruna Chaudhary were also present at the event. PTI CHS SUN VSD ABHABH