Punjabi flavour as Queen’s baton arrives in IndiaJune 25th, 2010 - 9:03 pm ICT by IANS
By Alkesh Sharma
Attari (Amritsar), June 25 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Friday referred to the Punjab link between India and Pakistan as the Queen’s baton for the 2010 Commonwealth Games arrived here via the border in the state.
Badal, accompanied by state Governor Shivraj Patil and other senior leaders were present at the Attari border, 30 km from Sikh holy city Amritsar, to extend a warm welcome to the baton.
The chief minister, who started his address in English, soon expressed his desire to use the Punjabi language and shifted to it.
“Punjab is very happy to host this event and I would like to speak in Punjabi language. Punjab state exists on both sides of the border and both of them are quite similar to each other,” Badal said while addressing the gathering at the border.
“Punjabis of the two neighbouring countries share a similar kind of lifestyle and food. We all are proud of it,” he added.
Pakistan Olympic Association president Syed Arif Hassan gave the Queen’s baton to Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief Suresh Kalmadi, who is also the chairman of the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games-2010.
“I am very happy that the baton is entering into India via the Attari border in Punjab as this state has produced many prominent sportspersons. Moreover, Amritsar is a holy city where we have the Golden Temple and it makes the start of the baton journey very lucky,” Kalmadi said.
Governor of Pakistan’s Punjab Salman Taseer accompanied the baton to India and shared the dais with the Indian dignitaries.
“This baton carried the message of friendship to India from Pakistan. We all are hopeful that our relations will improve and flourish. Pakistan zindabad - India zindabad (Long live Pakistan, long live India),” he said.
Even Commonwealth Games Federation chairman Mike Fennell touched upon the significance of both the Punjabs.
“I am very delighted to be here on this historic day. There was a great reception to the baton coming from Pakistan to India. It symbolises harmony, inspiration and anticipation,” he said.
He added: “Punjab is on both sides of this border. People from both sides have gathered here to celebrate the occasion. Therefore, 100 percent Punjab is present here to mark this day.”
Hundreds of people, officials and mediapersons gathered for the arrival of the baton.
Indian Sufi singers Wadali brothers and Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan gave a mesmerising performance to mark the arrival of the baton.
Bhangra and Gidda dancers, performers from Rajasthan and other states, traditional music instruments and security bands added to the festive atmosphere at the border check post.
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