Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur Sahib corridor, which will facilitate easy passage to Sikh pilgrims to the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.
The decision to build the passage -- from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the International Border -- was taken by the Union Cabinet on November 22.
Kartarpur is located in Shakargarh in Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab. Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, had spent more than 18 years of his life there.
The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara is located on the banks of the Ravi river, about three-four km from the border in Pakistan.
Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said the corridor construction work will be completed within four months.
Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Hardeep Singh Puri and Vijay Sampla were also present at the event.
The Punjab government had launched year-long celebrations to commemorate the 550th ‘Parkash Parb’ (birth anniversary) of Guru Nanak Dev on November 23.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor on the Pakistani side on November 28.
However, the Punjab chief minister did not miss the chance to hit out at Pakistan and its army chief for promoting terror activities in the state and killing of Indian soldiers.
He warned the Imran Khan led dispensation of serious consequences if it did not put an end to the violence perpetrated against India.
While thanking Khan for reciprocating India's move on developing the Kartarpur corridor, Amarinder, a former army officer, asked Khan to rein in his army and bring an immediate end to terror against Indian armed forces and citizens.
Reiterating his stand of not going to Pakistan for ground breaking ceremony of the corridor there on November 28, Amarinder said how could he go there when innocent Indian citizens and soldiers were being killed everyday.
“Where I thank the prime minister of Pakistan (for Kartarpur Corridor), I want to say something to his Chief of army staff (Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa). I have been in the army and he (Pakistan army chief) General Bajwa is very junior to me in the service.
"When we (Capt) were in the army, the country's security was always foremost for us.
"But who teaches in the army that you kill our soldiers at the border? You use sniper to kill our Jawans. Have you ever been told that you killed people in Pathankot, Dinanagar (referring to terror attacks at Pathankot airforce base in 2016 and Dinanagar in Gurdaspur in 2015),” Amarinder said.
Amarinder further lashed out at the Pakistan army chief while referring to the recent Amritsar grenade attack on Nirankari Bhavan in which three people were killed and over 20 people were injured.
"In Amritsar village, people were offering prayers in the morning and you get a grenade thrown at them. Is it what is taught by the army? It is cowardice," the chief minister said.
He said 'by firing bullets at innocent people and killing them with grenade what they get out of it…they should be ashamed of themselves'.
"If they try to foment trouble in Punjab then Bajwa (Pak army chief) should remember that we have Punjabi blood, we will not tolerate it," said Amarinder while pointing out that his government after coming to power had busted 17 terror modules and recovered several weapons and ammunition.
"If such people think of fomenting trouble here and try to weaken our Punjab, then Bajwa should know it that I will protect people of Punjab till the last drop of my blood," he said.
Amarinder Singh said everyone knew that the Army calls the shots in Pakistan.
"The Pakistan PM should rein in his army as ISI which works under army works against us..Such army chiefs (referring to Pak army chief) should understand that we have bigger army than they have and we are fully prepared.
"There is a limit to it …if you do it repeatedly (provoke) then India will also have to think," said Amarinder adding, "Nobody wants war. We want peace and development."
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters after the function, the chief minister said, "Armies don't fight innocent women and children, armies don't throw grenades on religious congregation, armies are there to defend the country..".
Lashing out at those who felt he should have accepted Pakistan's invitation to participate in their ground-breaking ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor, Amarinder asked how he could go there when innocent Indian citizens and soldiers were being killed by them everyday.
"I am saying this because some things came up in Facebook in which many are saying Capt Sahab why don't you go there. How will I go? I cannot forget my responsibility towards my citizens, I cannot go there.
"Because before reaching Kartarpur Sahib, I will have to go through Pakistan and Pakistan government is out of control," Amarinder told the gathering.
He said paying respects at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib has always been his cherished dream which will hopefully be fulfilled once these hostilities and killings are stopped.