The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday has passed a resolution urging the Centre to ask Pakistan to do away with the condition that pilgrims using the Kartarpur Corridor must hold passports. Additionally, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday made it clear that the Kartarpur Corridor will remain open, regardless of security concerns.
Speaking at the state assembly, the Chief Minister asserted that "we will not let the Kartarpur Corridor be closed down". "The Kartarpur Sahib Corridor has been opened because we wanted it to be opened; every Punjabi wanted it, and had prayed for it in 'ardas' every day, along with praying for opening of Nankana Sahib, Panja Sahib and other gurdwaras," he said, urging the governments of India and Pakistan to work for the opening of these gurdwaras too.
Captain Amarinder Singh, who had requested the Speaker for permission to make his statement before the Question Hour, was responding to criticism by the Opposition on the recent remarks of the state's Director General of Police (DGP) regarding the threat potential of the Kartarpur Corridor.
Noting "with great concern the statements made by different persons and organizations on the DGP's remarks about security concerns relating to Sri Kartarpur Sahib", the Chief Minister termed the reactions totally avoidable. "The DGP had apologized; everybody makes mistakes; even I make mistakes, we are human beings," said Amarinder Singh and asked: "Is there was anyone from the Opposition who could claim not to have made mistakes?" "We all make mistakes, this issue is over now, let us concentrate on peace and on ensuring that the difficult times through which Punjab had been doing not recur," he added.
DGP Dinkar Gupta has been facing ire of the opposition parties for his purported statement on the Kartarpur Corridor. Opposition parties had said that Gupta had told a national daily that "Kartarpur offers a potential that you send somebody in the morning as an ordinary chap and by the evening he comes back as a trained terrorist actually. You are there for six hours, you can be taken to a firing range, you can be taught to make an IED". The DGP also reportedly said some elements based in the neighbouring country were "trying to woo the pilgrims and making overtures to them".
However, Gupta on Sunday said incase any remark made by him inadvertently has caused any hurt to people of the state, he expresses his sincere regret. The DGP had earlier on Saturday said he was being "misunderstood or wilfully misconstrued" as his remarks strictly pertained to the security and safety of Punjab and India.
Responding to concerns raised by Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia, Amarinder Singh said Pakistan could not be trusted, as was evident from the developments in 1947, 1965, 1971 and the Kargil War. The Pakistan Army was highly committed against India, with Prime Minister Imran Khan being a mere puppet in their hands, he said, adding that ISI was also a part of the country's military.
Pointing out that 35,000 Punjabis and 1,700 policemen had lost their lives, in addition to the Army soldiers, during the years of militancy in the state, the Chief Minister said "it is our responsibility is to ensure this does not happen again". "My government was party to the decision to open up the Corridor. The whole of my government, including ministers and officers of various departments, worked tirelessly day and night, along with the central government, to acquire the land and build the necessary infrastructure in record time, including security infrastructure, for the launch of the Sri Kartarpur Sahib corridor to coincide with the 550 years birthday celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in November 2019," said Amarinder Singh.
"Personally also, I made numerous trips to review the progress of the Sri Kartarpur Sahib corridor project, and my government even held Cabinet meetings in Gurdaspur district to review the pace of work and ensure necessary coordination between various state and central government departments and agencies."
(inputs from PTI, ANI)