Amritsar,Punjab: All decks have finally been cleared for rail connectivity to the Takht (seat of temporal authority) Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo — the only one among the five Sikh Takhts that had been bereft of a rail link. Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Tuesday proposed to take up the construction of a railway line from Rama Mandi to Maur Mandi through Talwandi Sabo.
It has been a long pending demand of devotees who come to pay obeisance at Damdama Sahib -the newest of the five Sikh Takhts, declared by the Centre in April 1999 during tercentennial celebrations of the Khalsa formation.
The other four Takhts that are already on the railway map include the Akal Takht in Amirtsar, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib, Takht Sri Patna Sahib in Patna, Bihar, and Takht Sri Hazur Sahib at Nanded in Maharashtra.
Welcoming the announcement, Takht Damdama Sahib chief Balwant Singh Nandgarh was all praise for SAD and Congress leaders alike. “We were very hopeful that Pawan Kumar Bansal would fulfil our long pending demand. By announcing the rail link, he has done great service to the state,” Nandgarh said. He was also all praise for Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, for their efforts in ensuring a rail link for Damdama Sahib. “Even though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is from the Congress, but after Badal Sahib met him, it was sure that the link would be approved. Harsimrat Badal also played a key role in this,” Nandgarh added, also appreciating the efforts of Congress leaders Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu and Jagmeet Brar.
“Jagmeet Brar had come to the Takht on Monday and met me. He told me that the rail link had been approved and only an announcement was to be made,” Nandgarh said. “I then requested Amarjit Singh Sidhu (Akali leader) to press Talwandi Sabo’s case for making it a district,” the Damdama Sahib chief said, adding that rail link would be a boon for thousands of devotees who visit the gurdwara.
Akal Takht chief Giani Gurbachan Singh too welcomed the announcement and thanked Bansal for the announcement. “We are thankful to the railway minister. We request that a special train should be run to connect all the five Sikh Takhts at an affordable fare so that Sikh devotees from economically weaker sections could visit all the five Sikh Takhts,” Singh added. SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar also welcomed the announcement.