Pakistan has conveyed its readiness to the Indian side to reopen Kartarpur Corridor on June 29 (Monday) on the occasion of the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. As Pakistan is ready to reopen Kartarpur Corridor, the Indian authorities are yet to respond to the proposal.
According to a press statement released by the Foreign Office, the Corridor had been temporarily closed on March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, now as the religious places are gradually opening up around the world, Pakistan has also made necessary arrangements to reopen Kartarpur Sahib Corridor for Sikh pilgrims”.
To ensure adherence to the health guidelines, Pakistan has invited India to work out necessary SOPs for the reopening of the Corridor, the press release added.
In a tweet on Saturday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistan has conveyed its readiness to the Indian side to reopen the Kartarpur corridor on Monday.
As places of worship open up across the world, Pakistan prepares to reopen the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor for all Sikh pilgrims, conveying to the Indian side our readiness to reopen the corridor on 29 June 2020, the occasion of the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) June 27, 2020
The Kartarpur Corridor was inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan last year in November. The opening of the Corridor on the eve of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak fulfilled the long-awaited desire of Sikh devotees of the international community.
This landmark initiative by the Government of Pakistan had been immensely appreciated by the Sikh community all over the world including India. The first Guru of Sikhism, Baba Guru Nanak Saheb, had spent the last 18 years of his life in Kartarpur.
Pakistan reopen Kartarpur Corridor: PM Modi taking credit for Sikhs rights?
The Modi-led BJP did not show much interest in the construction of the Kartarpur corridor. There have been various baseless allegations, leveled against Pakistan by New Delhi and violations of Pakistan’s airspace. Despite all the tactics used by the BJP, Pakistan did not decide to shut down the corridor.
But later on, the Indian premier declared himself as the champion of Sikh’s rights, who managed the opening of the corridor for them. A statement of the Indian premier irked Sikh Community. Ravinder Pal Singh Timma, President Gursikh Welfare Association, told local media in Agra that this corridor was a brainchild of the association and they had been trying to get this which was sanctioned by the government of Pakistan for the past 19 years.
He also showed some past documentation and correspondence he personally had with the foreign ministries of both India and Pakistan, Mr Timma said that “What the BJP is doing now, it is taking credit of the fruit that has been borne by the efforts of the Sikhs. The Sikh community has never received its due share in the country and have always been deceived. 87 per cent of the martyrs in the freedom struggle were from Punjab, yet the Sikh community was never appreciated.”
He said that he had even talked to the then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf during the Agra summit and requested that the Kartarpur shrine be gifted to India, or be declared No-Man’s Land and a corridor be constructed leading from the Indian border to the shrine.
Religious Minorities in India
The rise of Hindutva in India has been marginalizing religious minorities in India. According to several reports, the primary target of mob violence of BJP goons are Muslims but sometimes Sikhs who are believed to be ideologically alien are also beaten up.
The 2018 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom released by Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, in June stated that “Hindu-groups had used violence, intimidation, and harassment against Muslims and low-caste Dalits in 2017 to force a religion-based national identity.”
As Pakistan is to reopen Kartarpur Corridor, it is important to recall that RSS does not believe that Sikhs are a distinct religious community. RSS’s insistence that Sikhs are ‘Kesadhari Hindus’ though a ‘valorous’ ones hurt religious sentiments of the later and questions their distinctive identity in so-called secular India. Interestingly, there is a strong belief amongst Sikhs that RSS is actively conspiring to undermine their religion through various direct and indirect means to ultimately wipe them out.