After the Kartarpur Corridor was declared open this afternoon, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, known for his colourful phrases, told Prime Minister Narendra Modi he was sending a “Munnabhai MBBS-style hug” as a gesture of thanks for helping Sikh pilgrims from India access the Darbar Sahib. “I am thanking Modiji… it doesn’t matter if we have political differences… doesn’t matter if my life is dedicated to Gandhi family… I am sending a Munnabhai MBBS-style hug to you, Modi saheb, for this,” Mr Sidhu said.
Speaking at an event in the Pakistan-side of the border, the Congress MLA also thanked Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for his role in making the corridor possible.
The 4.5 km-long Kartarpur Corridor connects the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur with the Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Located about four kilometres from the International Border, the Darbar Sahib is believed to be where Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, spent the last 18 years of his life.
Prime Minister Modi, at the inauguration of the India-side of the corridor, said Guru Nanak Dev was an inspiration to the whole of humanity.
“I heartily congratulate all of you, all Sikh brothers and sisters in the country and the world on the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor. Guru Nanak Dev is not only part of Sikh, Indian heritage, but is an inspiration for the whole of humanity,” he said.
Navjot Sidhu’s participation in the inauguration ceremony had initially been in doubt. He had been extended an invitation by Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was his contemporary on the cricket field in the 1980s.
However, the centre mandated that all such invitations must secure political clearance. Mr Sidhu sought permission on three occasions; the third was sent earlier this week.
Clearance was only given on Thursday, 48 hours before the inauguration ceremony.
Other high-profile people who travelled to Kartapur in the first batch of pilgrims are former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. BJP MLA Sunny Deol and Union Ministers Hardeep Puri and Harsimrat Kaur Badal are also in the group.
With input from ANI
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