Gurdaspur: Before he left for Kartarpur on Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh warned Pakistan against interfering in Kashmir and to stop “eyeing” Punjab, and said it won’t succeed in its “nefarious designs”.
Singh also said he hoped Pakistan would understand that India wants friendly relations with it.
The Punjab chief minister was part of the first batch of over 550 Indian pilgrims that entered Pakistan through the Kartarpur corridor, which was thrown open days ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev on November 12.
The corridor links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur.
Singh said he had repeatedly asked Pakistan to desist from its “nefarious” activities.
“In Kashmir, they are taking up cudgels against our forces and now they have an eye on Punjab. I have told them many times to desist from such things, Punjabis will not tolerate such things. You will not succeed in your nefarious designs either in Kashmir or in Punjab.
“Punjabis are brave, we are not wearing bangles that you can do whatever and try to foment trouble,” the Punjab chief minister said.
He was addressing a gathering at Shikhaar Masiahan near here in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who inaugurated the Kartarpur corridor on the Indian side.
Singh said Pakistan should concentrate on development, building schools, improving roads and providing clean drinking water to its people.
He wondered aloud what Pakistan will gain by harbouring enmity.
“I hope that they (Pakistan) understand that our country wants friendship with them. I have spoken to the prime minister (Narendra Modi) many times and he too wishes that peace should prevail and the two nations should come close,” he said.
The chief minister called upon the people to follow the path shown by Guru Nanak Dev.
On the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, Singh said he was blessed and privileged to witness the historic day.
“‘Khulle darshan deedar’ (unhindered access) of Kartarpur Sahib has been a cherished dream of every Sikh and it has become a reality today. I am truly fortunate to have this chance to be a part of the jatha and bow my head in the land of my beloved guru,” he said.
“For the last 70 years, every Sikh used to pray for ‘khulle darshan’. In 1947, when India was partitioned, Punjab was divided into two parts and some of our religious shrines remained there (in Pakistan).
“I have had the opportunity to go to Gurdwara Nankana Sahib twice, but for the first time I will be visiting the gurdwara at Kartarpur Sahib. I really wished that I could go there and today the prime minister has fulfilled my wish. I am thankful to the PM for this. Entire Punjab and the Sikh community are happy,” he said.
Later, in a tweet, Singh dubbed the Kartarpur corridor as a “historic” people-to-people initiative which offered a “glimmer of hope for the two countries”.
The Punjab chief minister also touched upon the stubble burning issue and called on people to protect the environment.
“Our water is getting scarce and experts say if we don’t conserve it, Punjab will turn into a desert in another 25 years. We have to ponder over this. If we think about this today, only then can we save our future and our coming generations,” he said.
Earlier, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Gobind Singh Longowal said the opening of the Kartarpur corridor was a long-pending demand of the Sikh community and the Centre had given it a gift.
Speaking on the occasion, former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said opening of the corridor was a matter of great happiness.
He said the area should be developed as the biggest centre of religious tourism.
Badal credited Modi with fulfilling the Sikh community’s demand.
“He (PM Modi) has a special bond with Punjab. Be it any issue of Punjab, religious, economic or political, he tries to find a solution,” he said.