Members of an Indian group that spent half-a-day in Pakistan said they were overwhelmed by the hospitality of the “neighbours”.
The team, comprising many Calcuttans, visited the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan via Kartarpur corridor at the start of this month.
The visit, called Kudrat ke Sab Bande (All human being’s are Nature’s creation), was an attempt to spread the message of “peace, unity and brotherhood” between India and Pakistan.
On May 1, the group spent almost half-a-day in and around the gurdwara in Narowal district of Punjab province in Pakistan.
“Right from the immigration officials to a local driver, everyone was so welcoming. I will cherish this trip all my life,” said Sanjay Kumar Gupta, a Calcutta-based ENT surgeon. He spent time with a man called Kalyan Singh, a Pakistani Sikh, who had come to the gurdwara.
When Gupta gave his introduction, Singh said that he, too, was a doctor. When Gupta asked him about his specialisation, he smiled and said he had a doctorate degree. “He had done his PhD in Punjabi language. We talked a lot...,” said Gupta.
Gupta also remembers the “hearty smile” of Wasim, the driver of the bus which dropped the team at the border on the return trip.
“Please ask your friends to come to Pakistan,” the driver is said to have told the group before saying “Khuda Hafiz”.
The Kartarpur corridor links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, where Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev lived and died at the start of the 16th century, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district.
The 4-km corridor provides visa free access to Indian pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.
The May trip was organised by the Calcutta-based IHA Foundation. The participants came from all parts of India and even from Thailand.
The delegation included members of Sindhi community. “The journey was like going back to our roots,” said Murli Punjabi, secretary of the Sindhi Panchayat in Calcutta.
One of the highlights of the journey was the langar at the gurdwara. Indians and Pakistanis sat together for a simple but tasty meal of dal, subzi, roti, rajma and curd.
“The mission of the yatra is to spread the message of peace, unity and brotherhood among the two nations and to ensure that the principles of Sri Guru Nanak Devji are remembered and practised. We believe we may be separated by a line, but as human beings we are one and this is the message that we wanted to give across via this yatra,” said Satnam Singh Ahluwalia, the chairman of the IHA Foundation.