IT might be a co-incidence and it might not be as well- the opening of the
Kartarpur Corridor and the decision regarding the fate of Babri Mosque; no doubt two historically unforgettable incidents occurring on the same day. When we look at these two, we find both of them connected with the fate and future of the minorities in India. The Sikh community looks jubilant and thrilled over getting an easy access to the shrine of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib near Narowal, in Punjab, Pakistan. Before opening of Kartarpur Corridor, the Sikh pilgrims had to cover a long distance to reach this shrine but now this distance has been reduced to just 4.7 kilometres. Looking back to history, during the 1947 partition of India, region where the holy Dera Baba Nanak Sahib and Gurdwara Baba Guru Nanak situated was divided between India and Pakistan.
The Radcliffe Line awarded the Shakargarh Tehsil on the right bank of the Ravi River, including Kartarpur, to Pakistan, and the Gurdaspur tehsil on the left bank of Ravi to India. For many years after partition, Indian Sikhs had been using a bridge on the Ravi River to reach Kartarpur. This bridge was eventually destroyed in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 and this destruction added a lot to the troubles of the religious devotees desirous of going to Kartarpur. Now opening of the Kartarpur Corridor has made things very simple and convenient for them. Though apparently the Indian authorities are expressing their happiness on opening of this corridor but inwardly they are not comfortable with it. They think that this is not a corridor linking the two shrines but a corridor providing Pakistan an access to the hearts of the Indian Sikh community. The inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor was attended by thousands of people from Pakistan and India including Bollywood actor Sunny Deol, Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Indian Punjab’s Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, cricketer Navjot Sidhu and so many others.
During the sacred ceremony, Mr. Amarinder Singh the Chief Minister of the Indian Punjab would certainly be thinking of his recent interview with India Today in which he has said that he feels Pakistan has a hidden agenda behind the opening of the Kartarpur corridor. He alleged that the Pakistan Army and the ISI are behind the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor. He said, “I look at it in two ways -As a Sikh, I am happy it happened, this will be like a pilgrimage back to history for me. But at the same time I feel like opening of this corridor is an ISI operation. I say this because the day that Imran Khan was sworn in as Pakistan PM, Navjot Singh Sidhu was invited to grace the occasion where General Bajwa told him that ‘you will be happy to know that we are opening the corridor’.
Astonishingly, the ISI always seems haunting the nerves of Indian rulers, politicians, and even of the nerves of the Indian intelligence agencies Be it the freedom movement in Jammu and Kashmir or in Nagaland, Assam, Tripura or the Khalistan movement and above all the Kartarpur Corridor Project, the Indian agencies and the politicians always try their best to frame the ISI in all such movements. Dragging the ISI into the internal matters of India and blaming it for all that goes wrong in India is not a new tradition. Now after the prejudiced and partially narrow-minded decision of the Indian Supreme Court on Babri Mosque, a very harsh reaction from the Indian Muslims is expected at some later stage as they are in a state of fear and horror at present. The statement of Asaduddin Owaisi, the President of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, very clearly reflects the anger and anxiety of the Indian Muslims over the decision. He said while talking to media, “If the Babri Masjid wasn’t demolished that day, what would the judgment have been today? There has been discrimination against Muslims and no one can deny it.
We are fighting for our legal rights.” In short, sooner or later, the Muslims would certainly protest over this injustice but unfortunately the Modi sarkar, instead of pacifying the Muslims, would start blaming the ISI for all their protest. This blame-story is not a new one; from the Mumbai Blasts to the Pulwama attack, the same story has been repeated so many times. Now, Pakistan’s efforts for materializing the Kartarpur Corridor have become a very strong proof of the fact that Pakistan is a peace loving country; it gives very much importance to the basic rights of the minorities and it can play a very vital role in bringing the regional hostile communities closer.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Multan.