Kartarpur corridor: Sidelined at home, Akal Takht jathedar may attend event in Pakistan

The jathedar said he didn’t attend the foundation stone-laying ceremony for the corridor at Mann village in Gurdaspur district on Monday as he did not get any invitation.

india Updated: Nov 27, 2018 00:40 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times,
Akal Takht,Kartarpur,Kartarpur corridor
SGPC President Gobind Singh Longowal and leaders of various Sikh organizations during foundation laying ceremony of Kartarpur corridor at Dera Baba Nanak in district Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Punjab on Monday. (Sameer Sehgal/Hindustan Times)

Akal Takht’s acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh on Monday said that he may attend the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan on November 28 as he has received an invitation from the government there.

However, the jathedar said he didn’t attend the foundation stone-laying ceremony for the corridor at Mann village in Gurdaspur district on Monday as he did not get any invitation.

Last week, India had decided to build the Kartarpur corridor up to the international border with Pakistan to let Sikh pilgrims visit the gurdwara on the banks of Ravi river in Pakistan. The two neighbouring countries on November 15 had made an official announcement to allow visa-free pilgrimage to the shrine.

Read- ‘His way of thinking’: Punjab CM Amarinder on Navjot Singh Sidhu accepting Pakistan’s Kartarpur invite

“I have got an invitation from the President of Pakistan for the ground-breaking ceremony of Kartarpur corridor. Besides, I also received a call from Pakistan’s high commissioner in India. It is very possible that I will be attending the ceremony,” said Giani Harpreet Singh after chairing a meeting of Panj Singh Sahiban (five Sikh clergymen) at the secretariat of Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhism.

The Akal Takht jathedar said, “By Almighty’s grace and due to prayers of millions of people, India and Pakistan agreed to open the Kartarpur corridor. No one should play politics over this and the construction should be completed as early as possible.”

He also ordered Sikh organisations, sects and societies spread across the world to join hands to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

SGPC chief to attend event

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Gobind Singh Longowal will also take part in the November 28 ceremony.

Confirming this, SGPC spokesperson Daljit Singh Bedi said, “Longowal will depart for Pakistan on Wednesday morning.”

Pakistan government had also invited external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for the ceremony. Swaraj said she wouldn’t be able to attend the ceremony due to her ‘prior commitments’, including election campaigning in Telangana. Swaraj had written to the Pakistan government that two Union ministers Hardeep Singh Puri and Harsimrat Kaur Badal will represent the Indian government at the event.

Amarinder Singh had rejected Pakistan’s invitation, citing killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistani army and terrorist attacks in his state. Sidhu, however, will be taking part in the ceremony.

SGPC asked to pursue Rajoana’s mercy plea

Giani Harpreet Singh has also asked the SGPC to pursue the mercy plea of Balwant Singh Rajoana — the death row convict in the Beant Singh assassination case — with the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind. The SGPC had filed a petition for the release of Rajoana before the President in 2012.

He said, “It has been more than seven years and the petition is yet to be disposed of. The SGPC should make all efforts to approach the President for the early disposal of the petition in the light of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.”

Takht Patna Sahib jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh, Takht Kesgarh Sahib jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh, Takht Hazoor Sahib Nanded’s granthi Jotinder Singh and Akal Takht head granthi Giani Malkit Singh were also present at the meeting held over issues concerning the community.

First Published: Nov 27, 2018 00:40 IST