Oberoi, who financed it, unhappy over insensitivity in maintaining a religious monument
Kartarpur Corridor, Nov 15
A Dubai-based businessman Dr Surinder Pal Singh Oberoi, known for having undertaken numerous philanthropic initiatives in the state, is shocked at the Punjab Government’s insolence and insensitivity in maintaining a religious monument, on which he had spent lakhs of rupees just three years ago.
A visibly dejected Oberoi said he would do a re-think on whether to finance any future projects in Punjab or not.
After receiving regular complaints that the bronze Ek Onkar icon, an emblem of Sikh religion, which he had installed in November 2019 at cost of Rs 40 lakh, had been gathering grime and dust, he decided to pay a visit to the site today.
In October, 2019, the Punjab Government, bereft of funds, had approached him with a request to build a monument “which would encompass Sikh tenets.” Oberoi hired the best of architects, purchased the finest marble, raced against time and finally on November 4, just five days before the corridor’s inauguration, the structure was handed over to the state government. The icon is mounted on layers of white marble, is 31 feet above the ground and was established at the T-point, the entrance of the corridor.
It was a common site to see pilgrims taking photographs standing besides it.
Three years on, the vagaries of nature have reduced it to a ramshackle figure.
Devotees no longer take pictures, a clear indication that the icon has fallen on bad days. “The Mool-Mantar, the 13-word opening phrase of the Guru Granth Sahib, was inscribed in indelible ink. The ‘rabab’ (musical instrument) of Bhai Mardana, the long time companion of Guru Nanak, was placed at the site to add aesthetic appeal. If they did not have money, they could have approached me. If I can build it I can also take care of it,” he said.
Oberoi had shot into prominence when he paid $1.4 million as blood money to release 17 Punjabi boys incarcerated in a Dubai jail for murdering a Pakistani national. He also operated chartered flights from the UAE to India during Covid in the process rescuing hundreds of Punjabi trapped in Dubai. This is besides donating ventilators to civil hospitals across the state.
Oberoi has asked Dr Satnam Singh Nijjar, chairman of the District Planning Board, to make arrangements to bring the structure back to its original glory.