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EXCLUSIVE | PM Modi’s Special Gift to Sikhs: A Special Cross-country Gurudwara Circuit Train Journey

By: Payal Mehta

CNN-News18

Last Updated: September 09, 2021, 23:28 IST

New Delhi

The 11-day journey will begin and end in Amritsar. (Image: PMO)

The 11-day journey will begin and end in Amritsar. (Image: PMO)

The 11-day journey will cover at least four prominent Gurudawaras including Harminder Sahib in Amritsar, Patna Sahib in Patna, Hazoor Nanded Saheb in Nanded & Damdama Sahib in Bhatinda.

An idea floated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will soon take shape as Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav is all set to launch an exclusive “Gurudwara Circuit” that will take passengers on a pilgrimage across the country.

The 11-day journey that begins and ends in Amritsar will cover at least four prominent Gurudawaras including Harminder Sahib in Amritsar, Patna Sahib in Bihar’s capital city Patna, Hazoor Nanded Saheb in Nanded, Maharashtra & Damdama Sahib in Bhatinda. This train will have several stoppages including Ambala, Saharanpur, Lucknow, Manmad, Surat, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Bathinda and Amritsar.

The special train will comprise 16 coaches including sleeper class and air-conditioned class. The cost of travel for a passenger in an AC class will range between Rs 900-1000 per passenger per day.

This circuit train will be run on a leasing model. The lease period will have to be a minimum of five years and can extend to the maximum coder life. As per the officials associated with the project, it is being said at the lease cost per year will be 7% of the depreciated value of the coach.

While the operator will be responsible for the internal maintenance of the train, the external maintenance and repair work will be taken up with Indian Railways. The train coaches will be state of the art including having provisions for displaying the photographs of all the Sikh gurus and also playing of Gurbani during the travel.

There will be a pantry car on the train for the passengers to book their meals on the route. It is expected that only vegetarian food will be available during the travel.

A leasing policy is expected to be announced sometime soon and as per sources in the railway ministry, this circuit should be operational by the end of November 2021.

This circuit is expected to be a huge hit given the fact that gurdwaras attract a lot of visitors both from within the country and even overseas especially during the peak vacation season. This will act as a boost not only to the railways but also to the tourism and culture industry.

Even before the leasing policy has been announced, sources in the railway ministry said that at least 40 to 45 big tour operators have expressed their interest in leasing the circuit.

Sikhism is one of the youngest religions in India with its base solid in states like Haryana and Punjab & Sikh population spread across the country including the eastern states of Jharkhand, Bihar and Bengal.

The prime minister’s personal relationship with Sikhs has been evident from the multiple steps taken by his government to celebrate the Gurus and their teachings to the working of the community on the whole.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th birth anniversary or Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji’s 350th birth anniversary saw the personal participation and presence by Modi.

The Modi government also solved the decades-old demand by the devotees of Darbar Sahib by allowing FCRA registration in September last year that would allow Sikhs sitting across the globe to be able to participate in Seva.

In 2018 the Modi government took the historic step to remove GST from langars in Gurdwara. An annual outlay of ₹325 crore was provided to reimburse central GST and IGST on food items used in Langars. This gesture will immensely benefit the Gurdwaras that serve free food to more than 1 crore people daily

Kartarpur Sahib is one of the holiest Gurdwaras for the Sikhs and since partition, this demand for the Indian Sikhs to visit this Gurudwara in Pakistan was pending. Modi government worked on the development of the Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, Punjab, and also allocated ₹120 crore for this project. The Prime Minister himself inaugurated this corridor in November 2019 and also flagged off the first batch of pilgrims from India to Pakistan for the Kartarpur Sahib.

The victims of the 1984 Sikh riots had to wait for over 30 years to get justice. The Modi government set up a fresh SIT and reopened as many as 300 cases. Political personalities who were so far able to evade conviction were brought to the law and including a couple of them getting capital punishment. A compensation of ₹5 lakh was given to the kin of 3,328 victims of 1984 riots cases in Delhi, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, MP, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir.
In Delhi alone, additional compensation was given to 1,320 families worth ₹125.52 crore.

At least 1,020 riot-hit families who migrated to Punjab from other states were given ₹2 lakh each as part of a rehabilitation scheme

Recently, the Prime Minister also led the opening of the renovated Jallianwala Bagh corridor which is evolving as a tourist destination.

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first published:September 09, 2021, 23:21 IST
last updated:September 09, 2021, 23:28 IST