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Modi inaugurates Kartarpur corridor, thanks Pakistan PM

Former PM Manmohan Singh was part of the first jatha of over 400 pilgrims

Modi inaugurates Kartarpur corridor, thanks Pakistan PM

Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdsapur): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the Kartarpur corridor, thanking Pakistan premier Imran Khan for respecting Indian sentiments towards the shrine across the border that marks the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev.

"I thank Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi, he told a gathering about eight kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak gurdwara, where he later flagged off the first batch of pilgrims to the shrine.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh was part of the first jatha of over 400 pilgrims.

Thanking Imran Khan at the meeting at a BSF camp in Shikhaar Masiahan, Modi said, He understood India's feelings on the Kartarpur corridor issue gave them respect and worked accordingly." I also want to thank workers in Pakistan who worked at a fast pace, helping in building the portion of the corridor on their side," he said.

The corridor links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Indian Punjab's Gurdaspur district, just four kilometres apart across the border.

Before flagging off the first jatha , Modi chatted briefly with Manmohan Singh, who was accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur.

Other members of the delegation included Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Union ministers Hardeep Puri and Som Prakash. Former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, his son and Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and daughter-in-law and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal were also part of the delegation led by Akal Takht Jathedar Harpreet Singh.

Gurdaspur MLA Sunny Deol was part of this group.

The corridor, which allows visa-free access to the shrine where Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak Dev spent his final years, has been thrown open just ahead of his 550th birth anniversary on November 12.

The prime minister inaugurated the passenger terminal on the Indian side of the four-kilometre corridor and also attended a langar along with Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore, Amarinder Singh and state Congress president Sunil Jakhar.

The state-of-the-art passenger terminal building, its design inspired by 'khanda', which a symbol of faith in Sikh community, has been constructed on 18 acres of land.

Modi said it was his fortune that he was dedicating the corridor to the nation.

"I am feeling blessed on this holy land... At this moment I get the same feeling all of you get at the time of doing 'kar sewa' (religious service)," the prime minister said.

He congratulated everybody in the crowd, the country and Sikhs the world over on the occasion. Modi said he dedicated the Kaumi Seva award given to him by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) to Guru Nanak Dev, he said.

The opening of the corridor and the Integrated Check Post before the 550th Prakash Purb of Guru Nanak Dev has brought "double delight", he said. "With this corridor, paying obeisance at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib will become easy. I express gratitude to the Punjab government, the SGPC and all the workers who were involved in building this corridor," he said.

Guru Nanak Dev, Modi said, is not the legacy of Sikhs alone but an inspiration for entire humanity, he said.

"Besides being a guru, Guru Nanak Dev is a thought, the basis of life. Our values, culture, our thoughts, our thinking, our upbringing, our reasoning, our speech, all of these have been honed by pious souls like Guru Nanak," he said. When Guru Nanak Dev set out on his travels from Sultanpur Lodhi, who knew what change he would usher, he Modi said.

He said the Guru himself had proclaimed that he had set out on the 'yatras' to pull society out of injustice, darkness and inequalities.

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