‘I would have taken Kartapur Sahib, then freed Pak soldiers…’: PM invokes 1971 Indo-Pak War

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 23 asserted if he had been in power he would have taken Kartapur Sahib from Pakistan before freeing more than 90,000 Pakistani soldiers, who surrendered in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. 

Addressing a rally at Patiala, his first in the state for the seventh phase of Lok Sabha polls on June 1, the PM said Punjab and the Sikh community have always been at the forefront of national-building efforts. 

The PM touched on the issue of Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, a sacred place for Sikhs as Guru Nanak Dev spent the last years of his life there, and blamed Congress for the partition. 

“The partition left Kartar Sahib in Pakistan’s Punjab, just a few kilometres away from the border with India. For 70 years, we could have a ‘darshan’ of the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara only with binoculars,” Modi said. 

He said “we had the trump card in our hands” in 1971 when more than 90,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered before the Indian Army and the opportunity presented itself to take back the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara. 

“Had Modi been there at that time, I would have taken Kartapur Sahib from them (made it part of Indian territory) and then freed their troops,” he said. 

“They (Congress) did not do that, but I did as much I could,” Modi added, referring to the opening of the Kartapur Sahib Corridor in 2019 that made it easier for Sikh pilgrims to travel to the shrine. 

Modi said he had come to seek the blessings in the land of Gurus “by bowing my head” while campaigning for Preneet Kaur, the wife of former chief minister Amarinder Singh, who is BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Patiala. 

Hailing Punjab’s leadership in various sectors from agriculture to industry, Modi lamented that the current “fiercely corrupt” Bhagwant Mann government has changed all that. “Trade and industry are leaving Punjab while the drug trade is growing. The entire state government is running on debt.” 

Calling Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann a ‘kagazi CM’ — chief minister only on paper — he lambasted the AAP government over issues of corruption and drugs trade. 

“All ministers are enjoying and the ‘kagazi CM’ is always busy marking his presence in the ‘Delhi darbar’. Can such people bring development in Punjab?” he asked. 

He also took a dig at the AAP and the Congress for fighting the Lok Sabha polls together in Delhi and against each other in Punjab. “In Punjab, they are fighting against each other in elections just to show to people. Delhi’s ‘fiercely corrupt party’ and the party which is guilty of anti-Sikh riots are enacting a drama of fighting against each other),” he said. 

“But the truth is ‘panja’ (Congress symbol) and ‘jhadoo’ (AAP symbol) are two outfits, but the shop is the same. Over here they may give any statement (against each other), but in Delhi, both are dancing together. That is why, I urge people of Punjab to beware of them.” 

Modi listed out steps taken by his government for the benefit of the Sikh community such as tax exemption on material used for making ‘langar’ and relaxing foreign donation norms to the Golden Temple. He further said his government had announced ‘Veer Baal Diwas’ to mark the martyrdom of the tenth Sikh guru’s sons. 

He added that his government brought Sikh families and ‘saroops’ of Guru Granth Sahib from Afghanistan. “I have blood relations with you,” said Modi, adding that one of the ‘panj pyare’ (five beloved ones) of Guru Gobind Singh belonged to Gujarat. 

He said during his tenure as the Gujarat CM, he rebuilt a gurdwara, where the first Sikh Guru Nanak Dev once halted, which got damaged in an earthquake. “Modi does not do it for votes. Modi’s head bows before the sacrifices of Sikh Gurus,” he said. 

Keeping up the attack on the INDIA bloc, he said “they neither have a leader, nor intent” and their biggest aim is the appeasement of their vote bank while the BJP’s mantra is ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’. 

The PM also slammed Congress for opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Modi said Sikh families were persecuted in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh and his government decided to give them citizenship. “It is not for vote bank,” he said. 

He said the INDIA bloc lies to farmers. “They made a promise with farmers but did not fulfil it. It is the BJP, which gives priority to the welfare of farmers.” 

In the last 10 years, there was a record purchase of wheat and paddy from Punjab, he said. “We raised MSP two-and-a-half times in the last 10 years,” he added. 

Security was beefed up because of the call given by farmer bodies to hold a demonstration against Modi. 

 

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