On the eve of the opening of the much-awaited Kartarpur Corridor, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh spoke to Republic TV and expressed his delight as well as some apprehensions over the historic event. The Kartarpur corridor connects Darbar Sahib Gurudwara in Kartarpur with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab. From Saturday, Sikh pilgrims will be able to travel to the holy shrine which is just across the border and participate in religious activities. This year also marks the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak Dev, making it an auspicious occasion for pilgrimage.
When asked about the personal significance that Kartarpur holds for him, he said that his grandfather Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala had the Gurudwara Sahib there rebuilt after floods in the river Ravi damaged large parts of the building. "This was in the 1920s when the river Ravi overflowed, it damaged a lot of the Gurudwara Sahib and so he had it totally redone... We all are very delighted it's happening and we all are looking forward to going there tomorrow."
The senior Congress leader also said that he expects the US$20 fee imposed on the pilgrims to be waived as such was the commitment given by Pakistan PM Imran Khan. "But we expected that. In fact yesterday also the spokesman of the Pakistan Army (Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor) made the statement overruling his Prime Minister. A major general overrules the Prime Minister, you can see what is happening in Pakistan (sic)."
"Everyone wants to go, if he wants to go it's fine. What I took exception to, while these things are going on and our soldiers are being killed in Kashmir everyday or in the Punjab border, then why do you hug the man who gave the order for these killings. That is what I objected too. (sic)" Amarinder Singh was referring to Navjot Sidhu hugging Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa last year at the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan as PM.
Captain Amarinder, however, expressed his apprehension about the purpose of this being done at this time. "This (discussions on the corridor) has been going on for sixty-seventy years... Suddenly everything seems to be happening, that gets me worried." When asked about what is he worried about, he replied that the Pakistanis are trying to get the sympathy of the Sikhs on the so-called "Referendum 2020", backed by Khalistani separatists. He informed that the state recently busted many ISI modules and the security establishment is on alert.