Calling for the immediate re-opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor with Pakistan, former Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi also to intervene personally to "open the proposal for a land swap between India and Pakistan for the merger of the holy shrine at Kartarpur Sahib with India in exchange for a suitable chunk of land elsewhere on the lines of the Hussainiwala village exchange"
Harsimrat Badal also urged the PM to take the diplomatic initiative for the creation of a “Permanent Peace Corridor” to link all multi-faith sacred shrines left in Pakistan with the Indo Pak border. Among other things, she said, this would be “the first step towards the eventual fulfilment of the sacred Sikh prayer for “khulle darshan deedare te seva sambhal (unhindered access and the right to perform service of the Guru) of all the sacred shrine which were weaned away from the devout Sikh masses in 1947.”
In her two-page letter to the PM, Badal recalled that the proposal for the land swap to merge Kartarpur Sahib with India was first mooted by SAD in1948. In fact, in 1969, the then Prime Minister of India agreed to formally approach the Government of Pakistan for this exchange of land on the pattern that the two countries had earlier followed in the Ferozepur sector with regard to the martyrdom place of Shaheed-e -Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh ji as well as between India and Bangladesh with regard to the Farakka Dam, the former Union minister added.
Badal said that the proposal had sadly been shot down by both the Pakistan government and strangely, by the then Congress government in Punjab. She said the issue came up for discussion again during Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee’s famous Lahore Bus trip and his meetings with his Pak counterpart, Nawaz Sharif. “This was at the behest of the then Punjab CM Prakash Singh Badal”.
Harsimrat lauded the sacrifices and contributions made by Akali stalwart, late Jathedar Kuldip Singh Wadala “who for decades organised Protest and Awareness Candle Marches on the Indo Pak border near Shri Kartarpur Sahib.”
She added that Sardar Wadala highlighted the utter neglect of Kartarpur Sahib area by the Pakistan authorities as a result of which the sacred shrine lay abandoned with its lands being taken over by real estate sharks and others.
She said in her letter that it was only after the persistent efforts of the former Chief Minister Sardar Parkash Singh Badal that the Governments of India and Pakistan finally agreed in 1998 to consider the Sikh demand in this regard when the then Punjab (India) Chief Minister Sardar Parkash Singh Badal successfully persuaded the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee ji to raise this issue with his Pakistani counterpart, Shri Nawaz Sharif during the famous Lahore Bus trip.
“Sardar Badal’s efforts bore fruit as Vajpayee- Sharif understanding led to a mutual consent for the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor,” she further added.
Reminding Prime Minister Modi of how finally this responsibility, of expediting the completion and the opening of the historic Kartarpur Sahib corridor, fell upon his shoulders, Badal said that this would “go down as one of your most iconic contributions to peace and understanding in the world.” She also referred to Modi’s comparison of opening of the Kartarpur Corridor with the pulling down of the Berlin Wall, but added,” While the Berlin Wall in Germany stays demolished, the Berlin Wall for the Sikhs still persists on the Indo Pak border.”a