Harsimrat Kaur Badal, in a ridiculous statement, has equated the $20 (US Dollar) entry fee, proposed by Pakistan to be charged from the pilgrims who visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib via Kartarpur Sahib Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak, with ‘Jaziya’. It is pertinent to mention here that every country in the World charge hefty VISA fees, while applying for the grant of VISA, then what is so fundamentally wrong; if Pakistan has imposed $20 (US Dollar) on VISA free entry to its territory?
Rs 500/- entry fee is charged from the NRIs to visit Red Fort. Fees are even charged from the children to visit Zoo. Furthermore you are bound to pay toll tax on every toll barrier put up on the roads built by Ministry of Surface Transport, Govt. of India. Notably, If you travel by road from any corner of Punjab to Visit Sultanpur Lodhi, Amritsar or Dera Baba Nanak, you end up paying toll charges, for back and forth journey, exceeding far beyond Pakistan’s 20 US Dollars. Harsimrat Kaur Badal should first ask the Government of India to waive all charges on the toll barriers on the roads leading to Sultanpur Lodhi, Dera Baba Nanak and Amritsar. Ironically when you are charging your own citizens for the facilities built for them only, then why cry foul on mere $ 20, levied by Pakistan.
Moreover whenever Harsimrat Badal speaks to media she never misses to mention the amount of funds Government of India has incurred to build facilities at Dera Baba Nanak to regulate the flow of Sikh pilgrims on the international border, through Kartarpur Sahib Corridor as if it’s not the responsibility of the incumbent Government to do so. It is such an embarrassment as if the Modi Government is doling out money as a ‘mortifying charity’ to the Sikh community. On a hindsight no Pakistan official or the Minister has ever mentioned the enormity of cost they have incurred to construct corridor or raise facilities for the visiting Sikh pilgrims across the border at Kartarpur Sahib.
Harsimrat Badal has even boasted for a paltry amount of 27 Crore which the Government of India is believed to have sanctioned as matching grant to develop Sultanpur Lodhi as smart City. I wish to make it absolutely clear that Rs. 27 Crore is not even peanuts as compare to Rs. 3500 Crore spent by Government of India to raise 182 meter tall statue of Sardar Patel in Gujarat. Then why embarrass the Sikhs every now and then by mentioning the amount spent at Dera Baba Nanak. The Pakistan authorities across the border have also built similar world class facilities, they also must have incurred the heavy cost for the same, but they never mentioned it anywhere in the public view like Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
The abominable overindulgence of Harsimrat Badal in the affairs of the SGPC and her self-assumed role as super President of SGPC, certainly causing disheveled shadows on the grace of the solemn occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji.
We should rather appreciate the commendable initiative of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, notwithstanding the hostile atmosphere prevailing between the two counties on host of issues. He responded positively with magnanimity to the prayers of Sikh Community and the followers of Guru Nanak Dev for free access to their holy shrines blessed by Sikh Gurus, ever since the partition of India . With the blessings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan happens to be the first person to respect and respond to the consistent spiritual prayers of the Sikh community for 72 Years, in the right earnest and the Government of India precisely reciprocated the bold initiative of the Pakistan establishment in this regard which also deserves appreciation.
Prime Minister Narinder Modi should advise his minister, Harsimrat Badal who seriously lacks sublime maturity as a Minister, not to be callous and absurd in her rhetoric every now and then, when she speaks to the media about the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji. She should devote her attention to her Ministry rather than awkwardly superimposing her persona in taking political credit for every noticeable fragment that is seen progressing on the surface either at Sultanpur Lodhi or at Dera Baba Nanak, by indecently exceeding her brief in every manner as a Minister.
The abominable overindulgence of Harsimrat Badal in the affairs of the SGPC and her self-assumed role as super President of SGPC, certainly causing disheveled shadows on the grace of the solemn occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji. Her repeated diatribe against the Punjab Government, undertaking the preparatory works at Sultanpur Lodhi and Dera Baba Nanak, is ostensibly making things worse.
The SGPC and Punjab Government must eschew confrontation and evolve attitude to impart the message of universal brotherhood; embedded with love, peace, tolerance and above all the truthful living; as enunciated by Guru Nanak Dev. Both these agencies are unfortunately wasting time and resources doing things in contrast to the fundamental teachings and the beliefs of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
(*The author is a former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, and a politician celebrated for his grasp on legislative affairs.)
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