Cong MP Bajwa proposes India-Pakistan land swap | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Cong MP Bajwa proposes India-Pakistan land swap

chandigarh Updated: May 17, 2012 13:43 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi

With the India-Pakistan Kartarpur corridor connecting two Sikh shrines yet to take off, Partap Singh Bajwa, Congress MP from Gurdaspur, has proposed a land swap between the two countries to allow hassle-free pilgrimage for Sikhs.

Bajwa has suggested that India could part with a certain area of land along the border in exchange for the area in Pakistan in which Darbar Sahib (Kartarpur), where Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life, is located.

In 1962, India gave 12 villages near Sulemanki headworks in Fazilka district to Pakistan in exchange for the land where freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were cremated.

But the statues erected at the martyrs' memorial were taken away by the Pakistan army during the 1971 war and have not been returned till now.

"Taking a cue from this, I would request Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who himself is a devout Sikh, to propose the swap of land to Pakistan for a hassle-free environment for Sikh pilgrims from all over the world to pay obeisance at the shrine," he said.

In 1999, India and Pakistan had agreed to construct a corridor linking Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district with Kartarpur in Narowal district of Pakistan at a distance of 4.5km from the international border to allow free movement for Sikh pilgrims without passport or visa.

The movement is restricted and only a few people manage to get visa to travel via the Attari border.

As the project is yet to take off, Sikhs throng a specially-created platform on the Indian side, 'Shakti Sthal', to pay obeisance and listen to 'kirtan' from Pakistan.

"The inordinate delay is agitating the Sikhs. They are willing to bear the entire construction cost if the two countries agree," Bajwa said.