A corridor into Kartarpur town of Pakistan was opened by Prime Minister Modi on Indian side and by Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan at Kartarpur on 9th November. This corridor links Dera Baba Nanak in India and Kartarpur in Pakistan. Kartarpur is town where Guru Nanak, First guru of Sikhs and founder of Sikh movement, spent 18 years of his life. Guru Nanak spent a large part of his life touring different parts of India and centre of intellectual life in whole of Asia including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Tibet etc. But returning from his great journeys, he settled at Kartarpur and took up agriculture as his occupation and means of livelihood. Baba Nanak’s taking to agriculture was very important and had ideological implications. Because his father, Mehta Kalu, was a Patwari which was quite an influential post at that time. Husband of his sister was in charge of modikhana, a sort of provision store, and family was not even remotely linked with the occupation of agriculture, then why guru Nanak chose agriculture as his occupation? Sikhi was a movement of peasantry against Muslim and Hindu feudal formations so this may be seen as an effort to further integrate with peasantry. However, the matter of fact is that Guru spent a considerable time in Kartarpur especially later part of his life.
Kartarpur is situated in Pakistan, now, just four-five kilometer from the international border between India and Pakistan. At the time of partition of India into two countries, India and Pakistan, Punjab and Bengal were divided. Many places related to Sikh Gurus and Sikh history situated in west Punjab remained in the Pakistan and Sikh devotees had been longing to visit these places freely and frequently. In the Ardas (prayer) performed daily in gurdwaras and in social functions, they beg from Guru for free visit to the religious places left in Pakistan. This issue is closely linked with the religious sentiments of the Sikhs.
Kartarpur being just four kilometers inside the Pakistan from international border is visible from the border. People go to border to have just a glimpse of Gurdwara at Kartarpur. Seeing this, Border Security Force fixed a telescope on its observation tower, so that devotees can see the gurdwara more clearly. Allowing this depends on the border security force officer there. An estranged leader of Akali Dal led by Parkash Singh Badal, Kuldeep Singh Wadala, who came out with Badal when he split from Akali Dal led by Surjit Singh Barnala, the then chief minister, took up this issue when he was sidelined by Badal. He formed “Ravi Darshan Abhilashi Sangat” demanding a corridor to Kartarpur. He along with his followers used to go to border and pray there for a corridor to Kartapur Sahib. But this was a low key affair and not much importance was given to it in the political circles. This issue picked up with the visit of ex-cricketer, a minister in the Congress government at that time, Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Election in Pakistan were held and Teriq-e- Insaf party formed by Imran Khan, ex-captain of Pakistani cricket team, won the election and Imran Khan was to be sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan. He sent invitation to his friend during his cricket days, Navjot Singh Sidhu apart from Prime Minister Modi and others for his swearing in ceremony. Sidhu accepted the invitation whereas others did not because whole politics of Sangh rests on the hatred towards Pakistan and Muslims. Sidhu attended the swearing in ceremony. Warmly hugging Imran Khan and General Bajwa, commander-in-chief of Pakistan army, he asked for opening the Kartarpur corridor as this was the collective desire of whole Sikh fraternity. Both, Imran Khan and General Bajwa responded positively to this request of Mr. Sidhu. Sangh, its ally Akali Dal and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh vehemently attacked Sidhu branding his act of hugging General Bajwa as treason. This virulent propaganda cost Sidhu his TV show. Congress Chief Minister of Punjab propagated that this corridor will open the flood gates for terrorism and ISI intrigues echoing the RSS propaganda. But once the Pakistan set the ball rolling this whole opposition had to fall in line. Akali Dal, alliance partner of BJP claiming to be sole arbiter of Sikh interests, could not afford to oppose as it is an issue concerning the religious feeling of Sikhs. Sikhs are not confined to Punjab only but are in considerable number in Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi and terrai region of Utrakhand. Opposing corridor means annoying this Sikh population, BJP also could not oppose it. So the Indian government grudgingly had to go along.
This corridor got added importance as this year, 2019, is the year of 550th birth anniversary of first Sikh guru Nanak Dev and Kartarpur is place associated with him. This fact accelerated the pace of completion of this corridor. When it became clear that construction of the corridor cannot be stopped, then started the credit taking war of words. Daughter-in-law of Parkash Singh Badal and a Minister in the union cabinet, Harsimrat Kaur Badal gave whole credit to Modi and her husband, Sukhbir Singh Badal. When she found her propaganda ineffective she started finding fault with 20$ processing fee levied by Pakistan. Meanwhile most Congress people in Punjab gave credit to the Chief Minister while some ministers and president of Punjab Congress acknowledged the important role played by Sidhu. During this credit controversies corridor was complete and was duly opened by Prime Minister Narender Modi on Indian side on November 9th and by Imran Khan on Pakistan side on the same day. Imran Khan invited Sidhu on this occasion of opening of corridor though he was unwanted on Indian side by Central and State governments headed by main contending political parties. In Pakistan Sidhu profusely showered praises on Imran for showing guts to take this brave decision and courted controversy in India for this.
In the present political situation in India, it is a corridor of hope. Because the Sangh government under the leadership of Modi has launched a fascist offensive against the Indian people. Target of this offensive are communist revolutionaries, democratic and progressive forces, minorities, Dalits, tribals and women. Among all these, Muslims are their immediate and prime target at present. They are being targeted under the pretext of “Ghar Wapsi”, “love jihad” and “cow slaughter”. Mob lynching engineered by Sangh cadres has become the order of the day. Fifty intellectuals, including historians, writers, film personalities wrote a letter to the Prime Minister protesting the mob lynching but instead of hearing their voice they were booked for sedition. An atmosphere of terror is being created in the name of implementing National Register of Citizens throughout the country. Sangh is making Pakistan as a symbol of Muslims. Whole political campaign of Sangh and BJP is against Pakistan and Muslims, an anti Pakistan frenzy is being built. War scare was widely spread in the border belt. In Lok Sabha election whole campaign was directed against Pakistan. Even in recent Vidhan Sabha election in Maharashtra and Haryana BJP campaign centred around Pakistan. In this political situation opening of Kartarpur corridor is opening of hope.
But BJP and its ally, Akali Dal, were not ready to adjust with this fact of opening of corridor. They made the issue of pictures of Bhinderanwale and his associates in a promotional song released by Pakistan on the occasion. Lies mongers of BJP were hoarse about the intentions of Pakistan of promoting cross border terrorism. Akali Dal also joined the chorus. But the fact is that pictures of Bhinderanwale and other Khalistanis are in Harmandir Sahib Amritsar. Not only that, a Gurdwara is built in the Golden Temple in the memory of these Khalistanis. This Gurdwara was built and pictures were displayed by none other than Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (supreme gurdwaras management Committee) which is controlled by none other than Akali Dal which is ally of BJP and its leader, Parkash Singh Badal. His daughter-in-law is a cabinet minister in the government led by Modi. This reveals the hollowness of Sangh propaganda on this issue.
Punjab being a border state had to pay the price of war with Pakistan in the past. So whenever clouds of war seem thickening, people feel a war coming against them. Punjab people are opposed to war with Pakistan. Otherwise also, people on both side of the border are Punjabis, speaking the same language, have similar culture, so they don’t see enemy in them. Opening of this corridor has given a hope for more friendly relations with their western neighbour. People also feel that they can benefit much from trade across the border. Despite the vicious propaganda against Pakistan Imran Khan and Sidhu have emerged the heroes of the corridor. Punjabis see a friend in Imran Khan. Wall of hate built by Sangh fascists is falling brick by brick. This is a blow to Sangh fascist offensive and their anti-Pakistan rhetoric.