When opened to pilgrims, Kartarpur Corridor will not just be a physical stretch of road connecting Dera Baba Nanak in India and Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan. It will be a culmination of wishes of lakhs of Sikhs in India and Pakistan. Kartarpur Corridor will be a spiritual path for everyone seeking peace.
India and Pakistan have made great progress in order to facilitate traffic on Kartarpur Corridor before Guru Nanak Dev's 550th birth anniversary on November 12.
But there are a few issues that still need to be ironed out.
Kartarpur agreement between India and Pakistan:
It was expected that agreement between India and Pakistan will be signed on October 23, 2019. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Monday had declared that it would be ready to sign the agreement on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on October 23.
However, it has now come to light that the agreement may be signed on October 24.
What are the issues?
Pakistan is insisting on charging a fee of USD 20 for every pilgrim who wants to visit Kartarpur shrine inside its boundaries. It is possible that many pilgrims coming from the poor section of the society will not be able to afford the fee which comes to around Rs 1500.
The MEA has already expressed displeasure over Pakistan's stand. The Indian side has repeatedly urged Pakistan to do a rethink about the fees.
"Pakistan continues to insist on levying a service fee of $20 per pilgrim per visit," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said on Monday, adding it was a matter of "disappointment" when understanding has been reached on most of the elements for facilitating the visit of pilgrims from India.
"While agreeing to sign the Agreement, the government of Pakistan has been once again urged to reconsider its insistence to levy service fee on pilgrims. India would be ready to amend the Agreement accordingly at any time," said Kumar in a statement.
The Indian government has taken the initiative of putting in place the state-of-the-art infrastructure and open the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on the auspicious occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev so that the pilgrims from India and those holding Overseas Citizen of India Card can undertake visit to the holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.
What do you need to do to visit Kartarpur?
According to the understanding between the two countries, up to 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the holy site.
A passport is a must for devotees from India visiting Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara to pay obeisance. Visa will not be required but the visitors need to get themselves registered online at least a month ahead of their visit.
However, the pilgrims will have to complete their visit to Kartarpur shrine and return home within a day.
The corridor is expected to be inaugurated on November 8 and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is to lead an all-party delegation across the border to Kartarpur Sahib on the opening day of the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9.
Delay in online registration of pilgrims:
Delay in inking the pact has resulted in delay in online registration of pilgrims. As stated above, the pilgrims need to register in order to visit Kartarpur Shrine. But delay in inking the agreement has impacted the online registration process which was slated to begin on October 20.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the corridor on November 9 and dispatch the first lot of pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would be a part of the Sikh delegation led by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. They will pay obeisance at the shrine and would return on the same day.
Significance of Kartarpur Shrine:
The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, located about 4.5 kms from Indian border in Pakistani Punjab's Narowal district, is highly revered by Sikhs as it was here that Sikhism founder Guru Nanak spent 18 years of his life and is his final resting place.
Sikhs have for long been demanding access to this revered place.
(With agency inputs)