Sukhdeep Singh Bedi (57), who claims to be the 17th generation descendant of Guru Nanak, got the ‘Darshan Sthal’ constructed at the India-Pakistan border in 2008 for devotees to see Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur through binoculars. Two days ahead of the historic opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, Bedi, a law graduate who lives at Dera Baba Nanak, tells The Indian Express that he credits prayers of countless Nanak’s followers who did not lose hope for making the Corridor a reality.
72 years after the Partition, Pakistan is finally giving Corridor access to Indian pilgrims to pray at Kartarpur. Whom will you give the credit for this?
I will give credit to all those followers of Guru Nanak, the Nanak Naam Lewa Sangat, who did not lose hope and kept praying for the Corridor. Credit goes to those who never left doing this ardaas (prayer) and used to pray even sitting at their homes. Jathedar Kuldip Singh Wadala used to hold ‘ardaas’ at the border every month. Similarly, all Nanak’s followers never lost hope that Kartarpur Corridor can become a reality.
But politically, for the project becoming a practical reality, whom will you credit?
We simply cannot deny that it is during Navjot Singh Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan that matter got highlighted and rose to prominence. His hug to Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa was certainly a catalyst and then Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan also played a big role. However, the project could not have become a reality had Government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi wouldn’t have agreed and approved of it. Kartarpur Corridor simply wasn’t possible to execute without PM Modi’s nod. It is admirable that on one hand Modi speaks strongly against terrorism and at the same time, he respected religious sentiments of Sikh community and agreed to open a Corridor with Pakistan.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh has expressed doubts over Pakistan’s intentions behind opening the Corridor. Do you also think that Pak can use corridor for anti-India activities like to fuel Khalistan movement or terrorism?
At this point of time, I cannot judge that with what intentions Pakistan is opening the Corridor. But it is the bitter truth that our neighbouring country has been sheltering terrorists for long. I can only say may Nanak bless Pakistan, may better sense prevail on them and at least now, they will stop sheltering terrorists.
Pakistan PM announced exemption of passports and advance registration for ‘Sikh pilgrims’. Do you agree to this discrimination for Nanak’s followers?
It is not only wrong but against Guru Nanak’s own philosophy to divide his followers or discriminate on the basis of religion. Guru Nanak Naam Lewa Sangat is from different religions and faiths. I think people always confuse two terms- Sikh and Singh. ‘Sikh’ is a very broad term and any person who follows Nanak’s teachings in his life is a Sikh, the one who is ready to evolve. His companion Bhai Mardana was a Muslim, but he was a Sikh as he was Nanak’s disciple. Sikh comes from Sanskrit word ‘Shishya’ which means a learner, a student and being a follower of whom you consider your Guru in life. Every Nanak follower does not wear a turban or has long hairs. Guru Gobind Singh had created Khalsa Panth to give a separate identity to Sikhs with a turban, long hair etc and called them ‘Singh’. However, Guru Nanak never differentiated among his followers on basis of religion. In fact, he never spoke of religions, but humanity. So, rules have to be same for all his followers for praying at Kartarpur.
So why do you think that Pakistan PM announced these exemptions only for Sikh pilgrims?
I am unaware of Pakistan’s intentions as of now but they should understand that anyone who believes in Nanak’s philosophy of ‘Naam Japo, Kirat Karo, Vand Chako’ (Pray, work and share) is his follower and they cannot be differentiated on basis of religion to pray at guru ghar (gurdwara).