Even as he extended a warm welcome to IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on his return home, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday urged Pakistan to admit to, and release, the Prisoners of War (PoWs) still in its captivity from the 1971 war.
In an informal chat with media persons as part of his tour of the border areas in the wake of the escalating tensions at the LoC, the Chief Minister also urged the Indian Government to take up the issue with Islamabad.
Expressing happiness that talks to further thrash out the modalities for the Kartarpur Corridor were on track despite the tensions, Captain Amarinder Singh requested the central government to allow 5,000-10,000 pilgrims to cross through every day once the corridor becomes operational. He recalled his own family’s close connect with the Kartarpur Gurdwara, which his grandfather Bhupinder Singh had helped rebuild after the 1928 floods.
On the compensation to the people whose land was being acquired for the Corridor, Captain Amarinder Singh said the state government will thrash out the matter with the Indian government.
He hoped that tensions along the border are resolved soon and Sikhs across the globe get the opportunity to have ‘Khule Darshan Deedar’ of the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara with the fast completion of the Corridor.
The Chief Minister, who went around Haruwal village in Gurdaspur district as part of his tour of the border villages to instill confidence among the residents, said he would be the first one to cross the border to pay his obeisance at the historic Gurdwara.
The Chief Minister assured the residents that there was no need for panic or fear as the armed forces were fully prepared to deal with the situation. He urged the people not to worry and assured them of his government’s full support. He nostalgically recalled his visit to the area as the ADC of General Harbaksh Singh back in 1965, and assured the people, “If anything happens, I’ll be there with you too.”
Addressing a gathering at Dera Baba Nanak, the Chief Minister said he was in constant touch with the central government and the state government
was well prepared for any eventuality. Amid loud cheers and slogans of Jai Hind, the Chief Minister said that even when he had come here as a serving military officer, what struck him the most was the indomitable courage and enthusiasm of the people.
During his tour, the Chief Minister shared a cup of tea with BSF personnel at the BSF border observation post in Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur (10 Battalion BSF sector HQ BSF Gurdaspur). He also interacted with Indian Army officers and men at an army camp in the border district of Gurdaspur to boost their morale and appreciated their courage in these stressful times.
Earlier, on arrival in Gurdaspur, the Chief Minister took stock of the situation and was briefed by DIG Border Range and Deputy Commissioner Gurdaspur regarding the steps taken for the safety and security of the residents. The Chief Minister asked the Civil and Public administration to keep up the preparedness level and further intensify dissemination of information useful to the public to ensure their safety and security at all costs.
Interacting with young students of Government High School Dhyanpur where his chopper landed, Captain Amarinder Singh encouraged them to study diligently, in order to further fortify their knowledge base and apply the same to be a force multiplier in influencing the society.
Enquiring about the police preparedness, the Chief Minister asked the PAP Commandos at Dera Baba Nanak Police Station to keep a tight vigil and act as a strong second line of defence to the Army.
The Chief Minister was accompanied by Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, his Media Advisor Raveen Thukral and DGP Dinkar Gupta. Prominent among others present during the visit included MLA Ajnala Harpartap Singh Ajnala, IG border range Amritsar SPS Parmar, Deputy Commissioner Gurdaspur Vipul Ujwal, SSP Batala Opinderjit Singh, DIG BSF Sector Gurdaspur Rajesh Sharma, Commandant 10 BN BSF Varinder Vajpai.