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Pakistan’s sudden decision to accept the 70-year-old demand to open Kartarpur Corridor is aimed at driving a wedge in the Sikh community by exploiting religious sentiments, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said.

He stressed that Pakistan’s move “indicated an ulterior motive” and Punjab is on heightened alert to check any nefarious design of the neighbouring country.

“The Sikh community had asked for opening of the passage to the sacred Kartarpur shrine for the past 70 years, but Pakistan’s sudden decision to accept the demand indicated an ulterior motive, for driving a wedge in the Sikh community by exploiting their religious sentiments,” the chief minister told reporters.

“While we do not expect Pakistan to dare to do any mischief through the Corridor, it is important that, as a border state, Punjab remains on alert,” said the chief minister adding that the state was keeping close tabs on the situation and was maintaining heightened alert.

Singh also lashed out at Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), alleging it was “playing into the hands of the Badals” and had refused to support his government’s programmes on the historic 550th Prakash Purb celebrations.

“Such major events had always, traditionally, been celebrated under the aegis of the state government, but the SGPC, at the behest of the Akalis, had refused to support the government’s programmes this time,” said the chief minister.

He said the Akalis have been “rejected” by the Sikh community in every election in the last three years, adding that Harsimrat Badal had barely managed to scrape through in the recent Parliamentary elections.

“The people had seen through their gimmicks and frustrated attempts to exploit religion for petty political gains,” he said.

“It was unfortunate that the Akalis, under Sukhbir Badal and his wife and union minister Harsimrat Badal, were trying to divide the Sikh community while celebrating the biggest unifier the world had seen in Guru Nanak, who worked for inter-faith harmony and dialogue,” he said.

His government had reached out in all possible ways to the SGPC to help joint celebrations, but the religious body was clearly working on the Akali agenda in the matter, the chief minister alleged.

Reacting to SGPC charges of inadequate efforts by the state government to make sure befitting celebrations on the occasion, the chief minister said all preparations have been made to make it a lifetime experience for the pilgrims.

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