Imran understood India's feelings on Kartarpur: Modi

Prime minister Narendra Modi. (PTI Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday thanked his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan for respecting India’s sentiments on the Kartarpur Sahib issue, only inviting a strong reaction from Khan who unsparingly raked up the Kashmir issue calling for a “free Kashmir”.

Both Modi and Khan on Saturday inaugurated the historic Kartarpur Sahib corridor link on each side of the border as the first jatha (group of devotees) of over 500 people crossed over to Pakistan through the newly inaugurated passenger bus terminal in Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur to reach the revered Sikh shrine in Pakistan’s Kartarpur, just over three km from the Indian border.

As Modi expressed gratitude saying Khan understood and respected India’s feelings on the Kartarpur issue, Khan, during his speech before thousands of Indians in Kartarpur, asked Modi to give justice to Kashmir and its people freedom.

“I am sorry to say that today what is happening in Kashmir is beyond territorial issues. It’s a humanity issue. The human rights of 80 lakh Kashmiri people have been violated by the nine lakh Army there,” he said. Khan said the issue of Kashmir was not about land, it was about humanity. People are being kept as animals and their rights as per the UN resolution have also been taken away, he added.

Interestingly, former Punjab Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who spoke as a special guest in Pakistan ahead of Khan, sang paeans for his friend eloquently saying he (Khan) lives in the hearts of Sikhs.

Imbibe the preachings

Modi, addressing a gathering in Dera Baba Nanak on Saturday afternoon talked about imbibing the preaching of Guru Nanak. Modi advocated a drug-free environment and an environmentally aware society.

Khan, on the other side of the border, kept the Kashmir narrative alive. He said, “If PM Modi is listening, I say justice begets peace. Give justice to Kashmir. Give people of Kashmir freedom... France and Germany fought wars. Today, their borders are open. Once the Kashmir issue is resolved and Kashmiri people are free, we will have peace. That day is not far away.”

Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara is the place where the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life. The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement with a passport to the Kartarpur shrine. Modi flagged off the first batch of pilgrims that was led by Akal Takhat Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh.

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