New Delhi: In a landmark decision, the Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the building and development of Kartarpur Sahib corridor between Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district and the International Border, aimed at providing easy access to pilgrims the holy Gurudwara in Pakistan.
“In landmark decision, the Cabinet approves building and development of Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to International Border. Kartarpur corridor project with all modern amenities and facilities to be implemented with Central Government funding,” said Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
The government also sent a request to Pakistan to develop a corridor with suitable facilities in their territory.
Last month, Pakistan had said that its decision on opening the corridor connecting the two Sikh shrines (Kartarpur Sahib, Pakistan and Dera Baba Nanak, India) will depend on whether India holds any dialogue with Pakistan or not.
The corridor is being built to facilitate Indian pilgrims to visit the holy Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan – where Guru Nank spent 18 years.
The Home Minister said that the government has decided to celebrated the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak throughout the country in grand and befitting manner.
Singh further announced that the Indian Railways will run a special train which will pass through all holy places linked with Guru Nanak Dev.
The government will also release commemorative coins and postage stamps. It will also set up a centre for inter-faith studies at the Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar,
Earlier on Sunday, Singh said that being a bilateral issue, this needed an active engagement of both India and Pakistan for its resolution.
He said he had personally met the prime minister and the external affairs minister and requested them to take up the issue with Pakistan.
The Kartarpur Sahib Corridor was first proposed by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999, when he took a bus ride to Lahore.
Recently, Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had attended Imran Khan’s swearing in ceremony in Islamabad in August, has said that Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa hinted at opening of the route to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, which will be observed in November next year.
Earlier this month, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had urged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to take up with the Pakistan government the issue of opening the corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to Kartarpur Sahib.
Referring to the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November, the chief minister apprised Swaraj that the Punjab assembly had passed a unanimous resolution on August 27, seeking uninterrupted opening of the corridor.
Kartarpur is situated in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, close to Indo-Pak border. It was established by the first Sikh Guru in 1522. The first Gurdwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, was built here, where Guru Nanak Dev is said to have died.
Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district.