As India and Pakistan are slated to hold talks on the sideline of Kartarpur corridor on Sunday, the name of pro-Khalistani leader Gopal Singh Chawla has been dropped from the committee.
The development was confirmed through an official statement on Friday, which said, “The Federal Government (Federal Cabinet) has been pleased to re-constitute the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC).”
Who is Gopal Singh Chawla
Chawla is a close associate of Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed and resides in Pakistan. He is suspected of planning terrorist attacks in India.
Gopal Singh Chawla is even said to hold meetings with global terrorist Masood Azhar and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. A few days back, pictures showing Chawla in an interaction with Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa were circulated on the social media.
Kartarpur talks between India and Pakistan
According to the government sources, delegates from India and Pakistan will meet at the Attari-Wagah border on Sunday to discuss issues related to the Kartarpur Corridor, including connectivity at the Zero Point and the number of pilgrims to be allowed.
India will also raise its concerns over the security aspect, they added.
New Delhi had earlier conveyed its strong concerns to Pakistan over the presence of a leading Khalistani separatist in a committee appointed by Islamabad on the project.
"The meeting will discuss modalities of the Kartarpur Corridor and related technical issues," one of the sources said.
The project will allow easy access to Sikh pilgrims from India to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan, the final resting place of Guru Nanak.
"Issues pertaining to the modalities of the corridor, who can use the corridor and its facilities, how can the pilgrims move across with regards to documents required for the travel, how many pilgrims can travel will be on the agenda during the meeting," sources said.
The meeting will take place on the Pakistani side, they added.
They also added that a "hi-tech and robust security system" will be in place when the corridor become operational.
"Security is paramount and non-negotiable," they said.
The sources said the work on a four-lane highway on the Indian side is in full swing.
The four-lane highway connecting the Zero Point of the Kartarpur Corridor up to National Highway-354 is being constructed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Pakistan is constructing a two-lane highway.
Officials said the work on the four-lane highway should be completed by September.
The sources said India is constructing a bridge at the Zero Point and has urged Pakistan to build a similar bridge on its side that will provide safe and secure movement of the pilgrims and address concerns regarding flooding.
The bridge is over a creek, of which the majority part falls in Pakistan.
Pakistan said it would build a mud-filled embankment, a move which would not only lead to flooding in areas on the Indian side but also pose a threat to the structure of the bridge, the sources added.
The creek floods during the monsoon when the Ravi river swells.
Another proposal put forth by Pakistan was to build a causeway, the sources said, adding that it was unacceptable to India as it would not provide an all-weather road.
They said the construction work at the site of passenger terminal complex at Dera Baba Nanak in India is in full swing.
The work has been planned to be completed by October 31 before the commemoration of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November.
More than 250 labourers and 30 engineers are working at the site in three shifts, they said.
The terminal is being built on around 15 acres of land with comprehensive facilities to cater to approximately 5,000 pilgrims daily, the sources said.
The complex will have robust security systems with CCTV surveillance and other advanced security systems and adequate parking space for 10 buses, 250 cars, and 250 two-wheelers.
The area will be developed with the amalgamation of rich Indian culture and state-of-the-art infrastructure with eye- soothing landscaping. More than Rs 500 crore will be spent on the development of this complex.
"On special days, we are expecting 10,000 pilgrims a day," one of the sources said.
The passenger terminal building is being constructed by the Land Ports Authority of India. The work for it was awarded to the Shapoorji Pallonji Group on May 29.
The land acquisition process has been completed with the support of the Punjab government and the project is scheduled to be completed by October 31.
The total cost of the project is Rs 177.5 crore.
In November 2018, Pakistan agreed to set up the border-crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak, to Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur district.
Kartarpur is located in Pakistan's Narowal district, about four km from Dera Baba Nanak.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had on November 26 last year laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor in Gurdaspur district.
Two days later, the Pakistani prime minister laid the foundation stone of the corridor in Narowal, around 125 km from Lahore.
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