New Delhi: Amid the escalating tension after Pulwama terror attack, followed by India’s pre-emptive strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) camps in Balakot and Pakistan’s subsequent retaliation, India and Pakistan on Thursday held their first meeting to finalise the modalities for setting up of Kartarpur corridor linking Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistani town of Kartarpur with Gurdaspur district in Punjab. The talks between the officials of both countries were held at the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah border.
The development comes three months after the two countries agreed on the project. As per official sources, quoted by PTI, New Delhi is likely to press for hassle free travel of Indian pilgrims to the Pakistani side besides asking Islamabad to insulate them from any propaganda by Khalistani separatists.
The Indian delegation will comprise representatives from Union Home Ministry, External Affairs Ministry, BSF, National Highways Authority of India and Punjab government. The delegation will be led by Joint Secretary (Foreigners) MHA, Anil Malik and will also include Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) MEA, Deepak Mittal. During the meeting, the Indian officials are likely to request Pakistan to allow visit of the Indian pilgrims to the gurdwara without any passport and visa.
All You Need to Know About Kartarpur Corridor:
- Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four km from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.
- The Kartarpur corridor would be developed in two phases. The government has identified 50 acres of land for the project.
- Phase-l will be developed over 15 acres of land and the passenger terminal will be a green building which will display murals and photographs based on rich Indian cultural values. It is expected to cost Rs 140 crore excluding the cost of the land.
- The building will cater to the smooth movement of approximately 5000 pilgrims per day to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan.
- Robust security protocols with CCTV surveillance and other advance security systems would be installed to provide security to the premises. The BSF is likely to be tasked to keep up the vigilance. Sufficient public amenities like food courts, VIP lounges and parking area will also be present.
- A total of 54 immigration counters are likely to be set up for facilitating travel of 5,000 pilgrims per day.
- The entry gate of the facility will be in lotus shape.
- In the phase-II, the government is planning to set up a viewers’ gallery and a restaurant atop a watch tower, a hospital and accommodation for around 300 pilgrims.
The foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor in Gurdaspur district was laid last year on November 26 by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the corridor in Narowal, 125 km from Lahore, two days later.
(Inputs from PTI)