Punjab CM urges PM to discuss access to more gurudwaras across the border

Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh. Photo: PTI

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said he would urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to persuade Pakistan to grant Indian devotees open access to other historic gurdwaras too across the border.

Singh made the announcement during the state-organised function to celebrate the the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev in the presence of President Ram Nath Kovind.

The function was also attended by Punjab Governor V P S Badnore and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot among other dignitaries.

On the occasion, the chief minister also said his government has decided to honour Punjab Police personnel with 'Prakash Parv Tagma (medal) for their services to the state in the true spirit of Guru Nanak Dev's teachings.

He also said that the 550th Prakash Parv celebrations, which began last year, would continue till November 2020.

Addressing a religious congregation after the completion of 'Sri Sehaj Path'or recitation or complete Guru Granth Sahib amid short breaks, the chief minister said as per his government's decision to release 550 convicts prematurely to mark the historic occasion, 450 have already been freed and others would be released over the next few months.

The chief minister welcomed devotees who had converged from different parts of the country and across the world here to participate in the Prakash Parv celebrations with enthusiasm and religious fervour.

The Sehaj Path, jointly organized by the Punjab Government, Sant Samaj, and various religious organisations of Sikhs on behalf of the people of Punjab at Sri Guru Nanak Darbar, had commenced on November 5.

Expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan premier Imran Khan for helping the Sikh community realise its dream of visiting the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, Singh said he hoped the decision would lead to more steps by the two countries to allow open access to devotees to more such gurdwaras in Pakistan.

He said he would personally take up the matter with Prime Minister Modi and urge him to raise the issue with Imran Khan to facilitate the realisation of the Sikh community's dream to visit more of such gurdwaras like Panja Sahib and Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.

Acknowledging the Central Government's support in making the historic celebrations a success, the chief minister expressed happiness at the participation of people from different political parties, terming it as a "befitting tribute to Pahli Patshahi (first Sikh guru)", who always spoke of Sarbat Da Bhala (welfare of all).

The chief minister said the followers of Guru Nanak Dev's ideology lived not only in Punjab and India but across the world and underlined the importance of following his teaching: 'Pavan Guru, Pani Pita, Mata Dharat Mahat' i.e. air is the guru, water the father and earth the mother.

Saying that the Guru taught us all centuries ago to protect the environment for future generations, the chief minister exhorted people to make judicious use of swiftly depleting ground water and refrain from burning paddy stubble.

Cautioning farmers against excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, the chief minister urged one and all to preserve nature and natural resources to make Punjab clean, green and pollution-free.

The chief minister earlier paid obeisance at the sanctum-sanctorum of Gurdwara Ber Sahib where SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal and SGPC member and former Minister Tota Singh presented Siropa (a robe of honour) to Singh.

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