Centre reopens Kartarpur corridor ahead of Guru Purab
A week after Pakistan urged India to open the Kartarpur corridor from the Indian side, the Narendra Modi government on Tuesday gave in to the demand for its reopening from across the political spectrum in Punjab and allowed the pilgrimage from Wednesday ahead of Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary on Friday.
Union home minister Amit Shah announced its opening with a tweet: “In a major decision, that will benefit large numbers of Sikh pilgrims, PM @Narendramodi govt has decided to re-open the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor from tomorrow, Nov 17. This decision reflects the immense reverence of Modi govt towards Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and our Sikh community.’’
He further said: “The nation is all set to celebrate the Prakash Utsav of Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji on 19th of November and I am sure that PM @NarendraModi govt’s decision to reopen the Kartarpur Sahib corridor will further boost the joy and happiness across the country’’. These tweets were also posted in Gurmukhi.
According to a statement issued by the home ministry, the pilgrimage will be conducted according to the existing procedures and with Covid protocols. The decision was welcomed by all political parties and Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi announced that the entire state cabinet will undertake the pilgrimage on Thursday.
Inaugurated in November 2019, the Kartarpur corridor was closed for pilgrimage in March 2020 owing to the pandemic. Over the past few weeks, there has been growing pressure from all political parties with a stake in election-bound Punjab’s polity on the Modi government to allow the pilgrimage via the corridor.
The pilgrimage links Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib that is 4.1km away in the Narowal district of Pakistan. Kartarpur Sahib is the final resting place of Guru Nanakand having such a pilgrim’s corridor has been a long-standing demand of the Sikh community.
According to the bilateral agreement signed between India and Pakistan in 2019, Indians of all faiths and persons of Indian origin can use the corridor for visa-free pilgrimage through the year except on specified days which is informed in advance. The pilgrimage has to be conducted in a day and all pilgrims have to return the same day.
The Pakistan High Commission had earlier issued visas to 3,000 Sikh pilgrims to visit gurdwaras in the country, including Kartarpur Sahib, between November 17 and 26 in view of Guru Purab.