Kartarpur ready to welcome Sikh pilgrims, says Pakistan PM

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur. File photo

New Delhi (NVI): Ahead of the formal inauguration of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor, Pakistan Prime Minister has tweeted the photographs of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur saying it is ready to welcome the Sikh pilgrims for the 550th birthday celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 9, will inaugurate the Passenger Terminal Building on the Indian side of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor at Dera Baba Nanak. He will also address a Jan Sabha.

India and Pakistan on October 24 signed an agreement to operationalise the Kartarpur Corridor even as the ticklish issue of $20 service fee imposed by Islamabad remained unresolved.  

The agreement paves the way for the inauguration of the Corridor next month ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, and will unable devotees to visit throughout the year the holy shrine located  4.5 km from the border in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

The travel will be visa free and the pilgrims will have a choice to visit individually or in groups, and also to travel on foot. 

Under the agreement, Indian government will inform Pakistan authorities about the list of the pilgrims 10 days in advance and pilgrims will be notified through message of mail four days ahead of the travel.

The Corridor will be open from dawn to dusk and the pilgrims travelling in the morning will have to return on the same day.

The Corridor will be operational throughout the year, except on notified days, to be informed in advance. The Pakistan side has assured India to make sufficient provision for ‘Langar’ and distribution of ‘Prasad’.  

Although the pilgrimage was supposed to be free, Pakistan has decided to levy $20 as service charge per pilgrim per visit, causing unhappiness in India. 

India has consistently urged Pakistan to not levy any fee on the pilgrims. It was stressed time and again, including in the previous three Joint Secretary level meetings and at the diplomatic level, that this is not in consonance with the religious and spiritual sentiments of Indian pilgrims.

India has shared its deep disappointment with Pakistan for its refusal to waive the fee. 

While the agreement has been signed, the Indian government continues to urge the Pakistan government to reconsider its insistence on levying the fee. 

India continues to pursue the issue of all-weather connectivity through the corridor.

In this context, Indian government has built the bridge on Indian side and a temporary service road as an interim arrangement. 

For registration of pilgrims, online portal — prakashpurb550.mha.gov.in — has gone live. The pilgrims may have to necessarily register themselves online on this portal and exercise their choice to travel on any day.

Pilgrims will be informed by SMS and email of the confirmation of registration three to four days in advance of the date of travel. An Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) will also be generated and the pilgrims need to carry the ETA along with their passport when they arrive at the Passenger Terminal Building.