Sidhu writes to Sushma for steps on corridor issue

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Chandigarh : Undeterred by BJP critising him for praising Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the Kartarpur gurdwara corridor issue, Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has written to the Centre seeking a "positive step" on the issue.

"It is time for India to take a positive step on this highly emotional issue. When opportunity knocks, kindly step up and open the door. The opening of this corridor will be a huge thing for the Sikh community all over the world. Even though both neighbours have had sour relations for decades, opening of the corridor can usher in peace and prosperity between the two countries," Sidhu said in his letter to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj that was released to the media on Sunday.

Sidhu, who was present at the swearing-in of his "friend" Imran Khan as the Pakistan Prime Minister on August 18 in Islmabad, has been claiming that he has been virtually instrumental in getting the Kartarpur corridor opened to devotees.

"Now, an opportunity has knocked our door. Pakistan has shown a positive intent towards the long-pending corridor demand. Some positivity came out when I visited Pakistan for the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan. Now their Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary has categorically said that the corridor will be opened and even visas won't be required to visit the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara as part of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev. It is time for India to take a positive step on this highly emotional issue," Sidhu said in the letter.

"The opening of this corridor will be a huge thing for the Sikh community all over the world," the former cricketer added.

Sidhu pointed out that after Partition in August 1947, several historical gurdwaras fell in Pakistan territory, including the Katarpur Sahib gurdwara associated with Guru Nanak Dev.

"Since then, the Sikhs living in India always pray that they should be able to pay obeisance at the gurdwaras across the border. Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara holds great significance as it is the place where Guru Nanak Dev spent almost 18 years. The gurdwara is very close to the international border," he pointed out.

The Minister said that thousands of devotees in India visit Dera Baba Nanak area in Punjab's Gurdaspur district daily just to catch a glimpse of this holy shrine through binoculars arranged by the Border Security Force.

"With Pakistan showing a positive intent, the common belief is that this can turn into reality. Appropriate steps on the corridor must be taken due to strong Sikh sentiments attached to it. Hoping for a positive response from you," the Congress leader added.

Sidhu on Friday thanked his "friend" Imran Khan for enabling the opening of the religious corridor, drawing flak from the BJP which said that the praise was an insult to India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.