“We have come here on a pilgrimage and to observe the birth anniversary of the Guru. We have no desire for any propaganda, nor will we tolerate any,” says Prithi Singh, who has come from Canada to Pakistan for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak.
Such sentiments were echoed by numerous Sikh pilgrims who came from across the globe to witness the historic celebrations in Kartarpur. While many praised Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, whom they credited for the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, they were all unequivocal in their sentiments that there should not be any “dirty politics” in the Guru’s name.
“It will be disappointing if the Pakistan government or any of its agencies use the corridor to foster trouble in Punjab. The Sikh community is giving them fulsome praise for their opening of the border but no Khalistani propaganda will be tolerated. I have not seen any such activity till now either in Nankana Sahib nor in Kartarpur,” said Manjeet Singh from Ludhiana.
Last week, the inclusion of photos of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Major General Shahbeg Singh and others in the official Kartarpur video of the Pakistan government had attracted much ire in India. Following a report by The Indian Express pointing out the same, the spokesperson for the minister of external affairs had said that Pakistan should resist from such activities as mandated by the accord on the Kartarpur Corridor.
In Kartarpur however, no posters promoting the controversial ‘Referendum 2020’ or other secessionist material were seen.
“We have come to pray at Guru Nanak’s gurdwara, from which we had been kept away for so many years. We thank the Pakistan and Indian governments, but do not want to have anything to do with any politics of any kind. I also think that it was wrong of the Pakistani leaders to have raised the issue of Kashmir during the opening ceremony. That was in bad taste. What has Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary got to do with Kashmir?” asked Nirmal Kaur, a pilgrim from India.
Bomb on display riles pilgrims
A bomb that had been put on display in a glass case just next to the gurdwara building became a sore point for devotees. A notice board put up next to it said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) had attempted to bomb the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in 1971.
The bomb has been displayed next to the ‘Khoo Sahib’ (well). Titled ‘Miracle of Waheguru ji’, the message on the notice board said: “Indian Air Force dropped this bomb during 1971 at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Sri Kartarpur Sahib with the aim to destroy it. However, this evil design could not be materialised due to blessing of Waheguru (almighty Allah). The said bomb landed into Sri Khoo Sahib and this Darbar Sahib remained unhurt. It is pertinent to mention that this is the same sacred well from which Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji used to get water to irrigate his fields (sic).”
Many Sikh pilgrims were seen looking at the bomb and reading the board alongside it and reacting with indignation. “This is totally wrong. The Pakistani authorities must remove this piece of propaganda. Who can even think that the IAF will try to destroy a gurdwara even during a war,” said Gurdev Singh, an NRI from the UK.
Arjun Singh and Gursewak Singh, two Nihangs from Barnala, said it was a laughable claim.
Tejinder Pal Singh, a pilgrim from New Delhi, said this was a border area which had seen many clashes during the 1965 and 1971 wars. “Many bombs may have landed in the vicinity but it is ridiculous to claim that IAF will deliberately attempt to destroy the gurdwara. Pakistan authorities must remove this from Gurdwara premises,” he added.