New Delhi: In a historic move, vice president M. Venkaiah Naidu along with Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh and Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Monday laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor marking a new beginning in India-Pakistan relations.

Naidu said the corridor opens new doors and new possibilities, and promotes a new resolve to connect the people of our two countries through love, empathy and invisible threads of common spiritual heritage. “This is a corridor to the shrine of peace, harmony and humanism, to the universal vision of a world as one family, to the sublime ideal of service to humanity. This is a corridor that opens new doors. It is a path that opens up new possibilities," he said.

He praised the centre and state governments for working together to construct the Kartarpur corridor in a true “Team India" spirit.

When the Union and Punjab ministers’ address came, the occasion turned into a political slugfest with everybody staking a claim to the success of the project. Before the stone laying ceremony, Punjab minister S.S. Randhawa stuck on a black tape on the foundation stone plaque erected at the site to protest the inclusion of names of former chief minister and deputy chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Badal, respectively, on the foundation stone.

Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, while addressing the gathering skipped mentioning the name of chief minister Amarinder Singh, choosing to address him by his designation while taking the names of all others present on the dias. She said it was because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that such a bold step could be taken. She also used the opportunity to point out that it was during the Modi government tenure that a verdict on the 1984 anti-Sikhs riots had been delivered.

Chief minister Amarinder Singh clarified that his cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s decision to go to Pakistan for the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor was “his way of thinking" but that he personally could not think of going to Pakistan while Indian soldiers and civilians were being killed. As an army man, he could not tolerate the killing of innocent Indians, said the chief minister, pointing out that on Monday an Indian Army personnel was killed by Pakistani snipers.

As for the central government’s decision to send its ministers to the Pakistan ceremony, the chief minister said it was for them to do as they deemed fit but he personally thought they should have been more sensitive to the feelings of Indian soldiers and citizens. The centre cannot close its eyes to what is happening in India as a result of Pakistan’s policy and support to terrorist groups, he added.

The chief minister said the world knows about Pakistan’s role in perpetrating terrorism in India, as seen in the attacks in Pathankot, Mumbai, Dina Nagar and Jammu and Kashmir. The central government is also fully aware of this, he added, reiterating his stand that till the cycle of violence unleashed by Pakistan against India came to a stop, he would not travel to that country.

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