Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that Guru Nanak Dev is an inspiration not only to India but also the whole world and highlighted steps taken by the government for the welfare of the Sikh community.
Addressing a gathering here, the Prime Minister, who donned an orange turban, said he feels honoured to dedicate the Kartapur Corridor to the country. The 4.7 km route connects Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in India with Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Modi said that the inauguration of the Integrated Check Post (ICP) and the Kartarpur Corridor on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev is a blissful blessing which would now ease the travel to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.
He expressed his gratitude to the SGPC, Punjab government and also those who built the corridor in a record time frame to facilitate the movement of the pilgrims across the border. The Prime Minister also expressed his gratitude to his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan for respecting the Indian sentiments.
The Prime Minister described Guru Nanak Dev as an inspiration not only to India but also the whole world.
“Guru Nanak Dev Ji is not only a Guru, but a philosophy, and as a pillar of support for our living. Guru Nanak Dev Ji taught us the importance of living by true values and also gave an economic system based on honesty and self-confidence,” he outlined.
Modi said that the Sikh faith founder taught about equality, brotherhood and unity in the society and that he fought for removing various social evils.
Describing Kartarpur as a holy place filled with the divine aura of Guru Nanak Dev, the Prime Minister said the Kartarpur Corridor would help thousands of devotees and pilgrims.
Modi said that the government is taking steps to protect the country’s rich heritage and culture in the last five years. He also said that several programmes are being held across the country and the world through embassies to mark the occasion.
He recalled that 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh was celebrated across the country. He mentioned that a 750-bed modern hospital was built at Jamnagar in Gujarat in the honour of the tenth Sikh Guru.
Modi said that ‘Guru Vani’ is being translated in various world languages to benefit the younger generations with the help of the UNESCO. He mentioned that Sultanpur Lodhi is being developed as a heritage town and a special train is launched connecting all the important sites linked to Guru Nanak Dev.
The Prime Minister said that air connectivity is being strengthened amongst Sri Akal Takth, Dam Dama Sahib, Tejpur Sahib, Keshgarh Sahib, Patna Sahib and Huzoor Sahib.
He also said that a special flight between Amritsar and Nanded has begun. “Similarly, the Ek Omkar message is being played on the Air India flight from Amritsar to London,” Modi added.
The Prime Minister said that his government has taken a major decision, which benefited many Sikh families living all over the world.
“The difficulties faced for several years by many of those living abroad to come to India have been removed. Now many families can apply for visa and OCI Cards. They can meet their relatives in India easily and visit the pilgrim centres,” he said.
Modi stressed that two more decisions by the Centre have helped the Sikh community.
“One is the removing of Article 370. It would now help the Sikh community in Jammu and Kashmir and Leh and they would get the same rights as other citizens of the country. Similarly, the Citizenship Amendment Bill will now make it easy for Sikhs to become citizens of the country,” he said.
He further said, “From Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Guru Gobind Ji, several spiritual gurus have dedicated their lives for unity and security of India. Many Sikhs dedicated their lives for independence in India. Centre has taken several steps to recognise this.”
The Prime Minister mentioned that the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial is being modernised. He noted that the new focus is on Sikh students to improve their skills and self-employment. In this context, he mentioned that about 27 lakh Sikh students who were given scholarships.
On the occasion, Modi released a commemorative coin celebrating the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee earlier felicitated the Prime Minister with the Quami Seva Award. The Prime Minister said he is dedicating it to the lotus feet of the Sikh faith founder.
Later, Modi and other leaders including Union Ministers Harsimrat Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Gurdaspur MP and actor Sunny Deol attended a ‘langar’ at Dera Baba Nanak.