On Saturday, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would preside over a function to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev on November 9. He said that the Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Chief Ministers of several states would be present at the November 11 function at Sultanpur Lodhi. On the other hand, President Ram Nath Kovind would attend the main event on November 12. According to Badal, the function would take place from November 1 to November 12. It is said that the first Sikh Guru stayed at Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala district for more than 14 years and attained enlightenment.
Speaking in West Bengal, Badal urged the Sikh community to visit both Sultanpur Lodhi and Kartarpur Sahib. Revealing that the Kartarpur corridor would be opened on November 9, he observed that the people could pay obeisance at the historic gurudwara in Pakistan. He called upon people to leave no stone unturned in the propagation of the message of Guru Nanak Dev. Furthermore, he asked them to ensure that the new generation would get acquainted with the teachings of the first Sikh Guru.
The Kartarpur corridor connects Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab. While the foundation stone was laid last year on both the Indian and Pakistani sides, the project has been stuck due to some disagreements. Essentially, Pakistan has proposed levying a hefty service charge of $20 on the pilgrims. The Indian government has officially opposed this. However, other modalities in the form of visa-free travel and number of pilgrims have been finalised.
Earlier, the Home Ministry announced that 8 Sikh prisoners lodged in different jails of the country would be released on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev as a humanitarian gesture. These individuals were convicted of crimes committed during the militancy period in Punjab. Furthermore, the government has commuted the death sentence of a Sikh prisoner to life imprisonment. These decisions were taken as a result of persistent demand from sections of the Sikh community.
(With PTI inputs)