Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 22
Away from the political clamour over the Kartarpur Sahib corridor, a man in Amritsar and his group of friends have been quietly pursuing the cause for the past 24 years.
With the matter assuming importance after Punjab Cultural and Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s Pakistan visit, Bhabishan Singh Goraya, 67, who belongs to Awawalpur village in Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur, is hopeful that the corridor may be finally opened for the 550th birth anniversary of founder of the Sikh faith Guru Nanak.
“Kartar Sahib is revered by the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims alike. It was here that Guru Nanak breathed his last following which a quarrel broke out between his Hindus and Muslim followers over his last rites. It is said the Guru’s body ‘vanished’. Subsequently, the two communities tore his shroud into half and performed the rites as per their faith,” Goraya explained.
He visited Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan in 1994. Disappointed to see the shrine in a shambles, he started writing letters to influential persons and raising billboards near Darshan Point on the India-Pakistan border where Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib can be sighted with the help of binoculars.
Along with his supporters, he has been holding ‘ardas’ at the site every 15 days, hoping their wish will be granted some day.
Besides his brother Raghbir Singh and friends Dr Balbir Dhingra, Bhajan Singh, Gurbachan Singh and Raj Singh, who is 93, Goraya has been pursuing the matter relentlessly for over two decades, despite harassment at the hands of Intelligence officials questioning his motive.
In 2008, Pranab Mukherjee, then External Affairs Minister, visited Darshan Point and announced that the corridor would be opened soon, he recalls. “Many other politicians promised likewise. Nothing of the sort happened. Nevertheless, people on both sides of the border did not despair and kept raising the demand persistently.”
Goraya is aware of the enormity of the task. “I understand it is a huge security risk for both countries. It will require a level of trust never seen before between the governments and the forces of both countries. Managing the rush of devotees would be a mammoth job too,” he says.
Goraya and his group ran into controversy just before the elections last year when they raised huge hoardings about their demand and criticised the NDA government for initiating talks with China over Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. but taking no such step with Pakistan on the Kartarpur Sahib corridor.
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