The 'Darshan Sthal' from where pilgrims in India used to behold the 'Darbar Sahib', located in Pakistan, has been dismantled. This means pilgrims will not be able to pay their respect to one of the holiest sites in Sikh religion until the proposed Kartarpur corridor between India and Pakistan becomes operational.
A visit to the site of Kartarpur corridor reveals the ground situation. The government claims that the construction work on the proposed corridor is being completed at war footing so that it can be become operational by November 2019. The work, however, is being delayed, officials say. 50 acres of land has been identified and acquired, but permissions from various agencies are still pending, they added..
Also, there is disgruntlement in the farmers, whose lands have been acquired by the government. The reason is, farmers claim, that tax has been deducted from the payment they received from the government. "We did not sell the land, it's the government that wished to acquire it and forced us to sell. Now they want us to pay tax on it. Why should we pay," complains one of the farmers in the area.
The caretaker of the 'Darshan Sthal', Sukhdeep Singh, says both the Congress and the BJP are busy playing politics over the corridor.
"Whenever elections come, political parties want to take credit, saying they have initiated the work here," he told NDTV.
"The corridor is getting delayed. Now it looks it will take six months. We all want it to open soon so people can go for darshan," he adds.
"We don't want any tension between India and Pakistan. We want these two nations to solve their issues," he says.
"Since India and Pakistan fell apart, we have been praying so that we could have darshan easily. Baba Sahib (Guru Nanak) did listen to the Sikh community, that's why the corridor is being built," says Joginder Singh, another priest in the area.
Interestingly, the Modi government had stalled talks between India and Pakistan on security grounds. But it is seeking votes on the issue of the Kartarpur corridor.
"It was first Badal Sahib, now Modiji who has made the dream of lakhs of Sikhs come true," says Union Minister Hardeep Puri. In every rally, Mr Puri tries to drive this point across to the listeners. But he denies that his party is politicising the issue.
The Katarpur area is situated in one of the Vidhan Sabha constituencies in Gurdaspur. People in the area also complain that political parties should leave Kartarpur out of their electoral claims.
"If corridor open both nations can resolve their difference," says an old woman
Meanwhile, the Congress is targetting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of delay. "People here have seen through Modi government. On one hand they claim they want to operationalise the corridor as early as possible, but on other hand they are blocking all communications with Pakistan," Sunil Jakhar, the Congress parliamentarian from Gurdaspur, says.
"People have realised that if you want to open the corridor then Modi is not the answer. He talks about nuclear weapons, he does not want peace...one has to realise the BJP is against all minorities, be it Christians, Muslims and even Sikhs," he adds.
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