New Delhi: Putting an end to the long wait, the Kartarpur Corridor will be thrown open on Saturday on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the first batch of over 500 Indian pilgrims who, from India’s Punjab, will cross the border and travel to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Punjab.
According to the statement issued by the PMO, before the inauguration ceremony, Modi will pay obeisance at Ber Sahib Gurudwara at Sultanpur Lodhi. He will later participate in a public programme at Dera Baba Nanak.
On October 24, after a lot of disagreement, India and Pakistan had signed an agreement on the modalities for operationalising the corridor. The first batch of pilgrims includes former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Akal Takht Jathedar Harpreet Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, former CM Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Navjot Singh Sidhu. SGPC members and all the 117 MLAs and MPs from Punjab including ministers are also part of the ‘jatha’.
The state-of-the-art passenger terminal building, its design inspired by ‘Khanda’ which a symbol of faith in Sikh community, has been constructed on 18 acres of land, reported PTI.
The fully air-conditioned building, akin to an airport, has over 50 immigration counters for facilitating about 5,000 pilgrims a day.
The agreement will allow 5,000 Indian pilgrims daily to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib where Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life. Indian pilgrims of all faiths and persons of Indian origin can use the corridor and the travel will be visa-free. Each visitor would be required to pay USD 20 as a fee.
There have been several flip-flops over the corridor. Initially, it was said that Indian pilgrims won’t need a passport but later the Pakistani authorities mandated the requirement of passports. It was said that no fee will be charged on the opening day. But on Friday, New Delhi confirmed that Pakistan has conveyed to India that pilgrims using the Kartarpur corridor on Saturday will also have to pay the USD 20 service fee. Then, foreign office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said that Pakistan will not collect any service charge from Indian pilgrims on November 9 and 12.
(With PTI Inputs)